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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


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:


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.


  1. Yes, my dead parents were be LuVV id, but I happen to have a soft spot for one particular be LuVVd Canadian Tire in Burlington Ontario. Great manager, especially in these difficult times.

    1. so people you love get three syllables and other things get two?

  2. If I ever use beloved it would be two syllables. Alleged is another two syllable word to me. There are others.

  3. I think I use these pronounciations interchangeably, but I like the explanation about before and after the noun. That actually makes sense to me for some reason. But if I ever use the 3 syllable choice for an inanimate object, it would most like be in a sarcastic manner or just to poke fun.

  4. Is there such as thing as dead irony, by analogy with dead metaphor? Whoever first used "beloved" with one of those disproportionately trivial things surely knew they were pushing it a bit. Beloved Canadian Tire, as if. It's like saying Winnipeggers will never give up their beloved honey dill sauce. Mild fun is being made of immoderate attachment.
    Another case of dead irony: "politically correct," at one time an ironic expression of lefty worry, is now a serious and contemptuous term for what the right hates about the left.

  5. The owner of the stable where I board my horse refers to us, the horses' owners, as her "beloved boarders". "Dear boarders" is too bland, and she certainly isn't going to call us "precious", "darling" or "dearest". "Beloved boarders" has just that perfect mix of humour and sincerity, plus it's alliterative - bingo!

  6. I stumble over the use of the heart emoji and the smiley with the heart. One labeled LOVE, one CARE. Which type of LOVE do I have for a stranger's sewing project, but then do I really have the hug type of care or is it more a mind type of care???? We have such a diversity of expression, is efficiency so necessary??

  7. I wonder at the redundancy in "Dearly Beloved." Are there some beloved who are barely tolerated, or actively disdained? "Insupportably Beloved, we are resentfully gathered here today..."
    I say be-LUV-id for all uses of the word, no doubt from the continual inculcation of that "Dearly Beloved" phrase.

  8. I use both pronunciations, and I don't have a clue why. I *think* I'm more likely to make it 3 syllables in "dearly beloved," but 2 syllables in most other cases. But I wouldn't swear to that--and I'm pretty sure I'm inconsistent about it. (I'm 70-ish, central Texas all my life.)


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.