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Friday

Do "美" and "丑" often refer to both appearance and behavior?

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Friday

When I first learned "美" and "丑" from beginning textbooks, I assumed they simply referred only to appearance. Then I found they can refer to behavior too. But recently I've found some situations where people seem to refer to "美" simultaneously as "good looking" and "well-behaved" while using "丑" to mean not just "ugly" but also "bad" or "poorly-behaved". In other words, when using it to describe someone they are both saying that the person is good in appearance and good in behavior.

 

Is this the common meaning and use of these words? Or occasionally? Or did I likely I just misunderstand? Do some Chinese really regard ugly people as "bad people"?

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li3wei1

could you provide some examples of this, i.e. referring to appearance and behavior simultaneously?

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somethingfunny

I'll second the request for examples.  It's hard to imagine what exactly you are getting at.

 

I can only assume that Friday is referring to how someones behaviour can affect their attractiveness.  For example, you might have a guy who is fairly attractive but burps and farts constantly.  I'd say it's fair to label that 'ugly'.

 

I'm not so sure on the counter-situation.  I feel that 美 is pretty much physical appearance only.  If you want to start talking about behaviour you're going to be better off with words like 乖 and 魅力.

 

Come to think of it, 魅力 seems like it generally refers to men.  What would be the female equivalent?  I think I've tried out 有气质 a few times, but I can't remember how well it went down.

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Lu

There's 美德, of course, which refers to virtue, not physical beauty.

But the same happens in English. If you refer to someone as 'a beautiful person' that says a lot more about that person's lovely character and good deeds than her looks. In Dutch I pretty confidently use 'ugly' for things that are distasteful or bad in some way, even if they aren't visible, and I think you can probably do the same in English. So wouldn't be surprised if you can do it in Chinese too.

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mouse

Both 美 and 醜 can refer to non-physical qualities. Lu has noted a key one for 美, and there's also 美名 (a good reputation) and 甘美 (sweet and fresh tasting) 完美 and 美好 both mean "good". You can also 稱美 and 讚美 (to praise). Sometimes 美 means to show off, as in 臭美.

 

A situation can be 醜 (ie 醜聞 or 醜事, a scandal), where 醜 gives a sense of shame.

 

A 丑 is also the "clown" role in traditional Chinese operas, and so sometimes has meanings associated with that (usually having the sense of foolishness). It's hard to work this out without doing some research though, because in the PRC both 丑 and 醜 appear as 丑 and in Taiwan they tend to both appear as 醜.

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Friday

As others requested an example, here is an attempt to paraphrase a conversation, as best as I can manage:

“他很丑,所以老师要他打扫。我们漂亮,所以我们可能玩。"

 

Understood literally, they said the good-looking kids get to play always, but the ugly kid had to do all of the work.

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somethingfunny

Hmm, this is a strange example.  However, I have seen something similar on wechat and places like that.  If a group of friends is out at a particular place, they might say something like "帅的都在图书馆做作业" and likewise "丑的都在家看电视".  This is pretty much just like saying "all the cool people are ..." or "all the losers are ... ".

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lips

No doubt 美and 醜 can apply to both appearance and intangible wuality, as stated in the posts above.  On the other hand, one should also  distinguish berween figure-of-speech usage and the actual meaning of the words.

 

For this, “他很丑,所以老师要他打扫。我们漂亮,所以我们可能玩", I would not interpret 丑 (醜) and 漂亮 as applyng to anything other than appearance.  It may be true that 他 is indeed ugly and we are indeed pretty, or not, but the sentence was semi-seriously or the speaker was being funny.

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