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American Dictionary of the English Language

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Elegance


EL'EGANCE

EL'EGANCY, noun [Latin elegantia, eligo, to choose, though irregularly formed.]

In its primary sense, this word signified that which is choice or select, as distinguished from what is common.

1. 'The beauty of propriety, not of greatness, ' says Johnson.

Applied to manners or behavior, elegance is that fine polish, politeness or grace, which is acquired by a genteel education, and an association with wellbred company.

Applied to language, elegance respects the manner of speaking or of writing. elegance of speaking is the propriety of diction and utterance, and the gracefulness of action or gesture; comprehending correct, appropriate and rich expressions, delivered in an agreeable manner. elegance of composition consists in correct, appropriate and rich expressions, or well chosen words, arranged in a happy manner. elegance implies neatness, purity, and correct, perspicuous arrangement, and is calculated to please a delicate taste, rather than to excite admiration or strong feeling. elegance is applied also to form. elegance in architecture, consists in the due symmetry and distribution of the parts of an edifice, or in regular proportions and arrangement. And in a similar sense, the word is applied to the person or human body. It is applied also to penmanship, denoting that form of letters which is most agreeable to the eye. In short, in a looser sense, it is applied to many works of art or nature remarkable for their beauty; as elegance of dress or furniture.

2. That which pleases by its nicety, symmetry, purity or beauty. In this sense it has a plural; as the nicer elegancies of art.