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This blog is about the fascinating, fun, and challenging things about the English language. I hope to entertain you and to help you with problems or just questions you might have with spelling and usage. I go beyond just stating what is right and what is wrong, and provide some history or some tips to help you remember. Is something puzzling you? Feel free to email me at wordlady.barber@gmail.com.
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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Dearly Beloved

 

It seems to me that popular public figures, places, and things are more and more described as "beloved". I am not talking about the long-standing use of "beloved" with relatives and pets, especially in obituaries, but more with inanimate things and public figures with whom one has no personal attachment. It's a little difficult to do a corpus frequency search on this, but recently I have seen the following described as "beloved"

Pizza Pizza, a Canadian pizza chain

Canadian Tire, a chain of hardware stores ("Beloved Canadian Tire"??? Really?)

film and TV franchises and series

jazz performances

restaurants (especially when reporting that they are ceasing business)

a cannabis brand

TV hosts and actors

hockey sticks

the Snowbirds (Canadian aerobatic team)

Swiss Chalet rotisserie chicken 

Corn Flakes and All-Bran

loafers

It all seems hyperbolic to me. Why are restaurants and actors always "beloved"?  Do I really feel about my Corn Flakes as I do about my family?

The New Oxford Dictionary of English does in fact approach this diminished sense, but only in a specific structure:

adjective

dearly loved: his beloved son.
  • ■ (beloved by/of) very popular with (a specified set of people): the stark council estates beloved of town planners in the 1960s
     

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary does not, sticking with "dearly loved" alone (perhaps because the latter's Editor-in-Chief was being cranky?). But when you see the synonyms the Oxford Thesaurus provides for "beloved", the meaning is a bit over the top:

darling, dear, dearest, precious, adored, much loved, cherished, treasured, prized, highly regarded, admired, esteemed, worshipped, revered, venerated, idolized.

Would you apply any of these to Canadian Tire?

I will admit this annoys me, even though I'm supposed to appreciate sense development of words. Surely "popular" or "well-liked" or "admired" would do? 

What about you? Have you  noticed this use of "beloved"? What do you think?

How do you pronounce this word when used as an adjective before a noun? As two syllables or three? Is it "be LUVV id Canadian Tire" or "be LUVVD Canadian Tire"? Traditionally, dictionaries have recorded "be LUVV id" when the adjective is used before a noun or as a noun (as in "dearly beloved") and  "be LUVVD" for when it is used after a noun  but I believe this usage is shifting.

About Me

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Canada's Word Lady, Katherine Barber is an expert on the English language and a frequent guest on radio and television. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Her witty and informative talks on the stories behind our words are very popular. Contact her at wordlady.barber@gmail.com to book her for speaking engagements; she can tailor her talks to almost any subject. She is also available as an expert witness for lawsuits.