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#189892 03/13/10 08:03 PM
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wsieber Offline OP
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Can the word "masterful" be applied to a work of art, to compliment the perfect technique of the artist? (In the dictionaries, the word has also some negative connotations)

wsieber #189893 03/13/10 08:40 PM
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why not? this is yet another example where one could quote ol' Humpty Dumpty.
-joe (meaning exactly what I mean) friday

wsieber #189896 03/13/10 09:40 PM
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Works for me. Try googling "masterful portrait" or "masterful watercolor" and see what you get. See A-H (link).


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
zmjezhd #189900 03/13/10 11:48 PM
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jheem, I get a 999 error from that link.

tsuwm #189901 03/14/10 12:13 AM
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Works for me.

Faldage #189902 03/14/10 12:23 AM
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seems a masterly link here.


formerly known as etaoin...
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MWCD comments: Some commentators insist that use of masterful should be limited to sense 1 in order to preserve a distinction between it and masterly. The distinction is a modern one, excogitated by a 20th century pundit in disregard of the history of the word. Both words developed in a parallel manner but the earlier sense of masterly, equivalent to masterful 1, dropped out of use. Since masterly had but one sense, the pundit opined that it would be tidy if masterful were likewise limited to one sense and he forthwith condemned use of masterful 2 as an error. Sense 2 of masterful, which is slightly older than the sense of masterly intended to replace it, has continued in reputable use all along; it cannot rationally be called an error. [see here for senses 1 and 2]

tsuwm #189907 03/14/10 08:59 AM
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To compare it with artful:
ADJECTIVE:

1.Exhibiting art or skill: "The furniture is an artful blend of antiques and reproductions" (Michael W. Robbins).
2.Skillful in accomplishing a purpose, especially by the use of cunning or craft.
3.Artificial.

Here negative meaning came in by degree.

tsuwm #189908 03/14/10 10:03 AM
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Thank you for unearthing this interesting history !

BranShea #189909 03/14/10 10:26 AM
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Here negative meaning came in by degree - e.g. Dickens' Artful Dodger..

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