Compliments are one of the best things that can be said to you. And one of the most common you’ll hear is “beautiful”.
If you want to take it a step further, you could say “You are beautiful inside and out”.
A common missaying of the phrase is ‘you are beautiful inside-out’, but the correct version is actually ‘you are beautiful inside and out’.
Beautiful on the outside means attractive, pleasant to look at. Beautiful on the inside means kind, lovely, friendly.
Therefore “beautiful inside and out” means nice to look at but also lovely to be around.
Many of us like to think that we look nice, but we’re often told: “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”. So being told that we’ve nailed both is going to make us feel great.
When we call someone beautiful, we’re saying they’re full of beauty; they have a lot of beauty.
The word “beauty” comes from the Latin Bellus- pretty/attractive.
The French turned that word into “Beaute”. When the Normans came over and invaded England, they brought that word into our language.
It wasn’t until the Medieval times when we would be speaking middle English that “Beaute” became “beauty”.
In Modern English, someone who had a lot of beauty was known as “Beautiful”. And since then, it has become the go-to compliment for many people.
Why do we give compliments?
Of course, having a compliment given to you is always nice. We like to know that other people think highly of us.
But giving can be just as great as receiving. When you give a compliment to someone, it’s going to make the recipient feel happy, which in turn is going to make us happy.
But it does more than that, it shows that we’re aware of the other people around us, and we have empathy towards others, as we care about their emotions.
If people like you, you’ll be more likely to get further in life, this is true for both our social and our working lives.
Is “beautiful” still a compliment?
Today, the #MeToo movement has gained traction. There is a debate as to whether or not “beautiful” is still a compliment.
When many women hear that word, they won’t think of a classic romance novel with a dashing hero from a wealthy family. Many of them are going to think of an overweight middle-aged man yelling at her from across the street.
“Beautiful” has stopped being romantic and has now just become creepy.
However, I believe that context matters. Someone yelling at a woman on the street is always going to be creepy. But if you know someone and they say “You are beautiful inside and out”, that is rarely anything other than a compliment.
The phrase “You are beautiful inside and out” came to fruition during the Victorian times, when romantic literature was prevalent. This was when the idea of love was changing, gone are the days when we would marry who our parents told us to, and we could marry people who we loved.
It’s been hard to pin-point the very first usage of the phrase, but the earliest examples I could find on Google books were from the 1800s.
A common missaying of the phrase is “you are beautiful inside-out”. Whilst on the surface this might sound similar, it actually has a slightly weird meaning when you look into it.
For something to be “inside-out” means that the inside is now on the outside. For a person to be inside out, would mean their organs and bones would be on the outside. And I’m sure that image is not what many of us think when we hear the word “beautiful”.
Unless you want to tell someone that if their organs were on display, they would look much better, you should not be saying to anyone “You are beautiful inside-out”.
The final word of the compliment (out) doesn’t really make all that much sense when you look into it. Therefore, it would be better if we were to say “You’re beautiful inside and outside”.
By saying “outside” instead of “out”, you’ll be making it more explicit what you mean. You’re not telling someone they’d be beautiful if they left the room.
However, because everyone will know what you mean if you say “out”, it has become an ordinary compliment. Language can break its rules if people use it in that way.
There are, of course, plenty of other ways that you can say to someone they possess both inner and outer beauty.
“You’re great through and through” has a similar meaning to “beautiful inside and out”, but would be better said to a friend or idol than someone you wish to be romantic with.
“You’re an angel”. In the Bible, Angels are beautiful to look at but also filled with the love and grace of God. So comparing someone to such a creature is a big compliment.
“Perfect” means cannot be improved in any way. If someone is perfect, that means they cannot get more attractive nor can they get any nicer.
Not your guts
To say that someone is beautiful on the inside is to be using metaphors.
A metaphor is when we say what we don’t literally mean. Metaphors are more common than we like to think, and they’re not just used in English class.
To literally be beautiful on the inside, we would need to eat healthily, not smoke, and not drink. When we tell someone they’re beautiful on the inside, we’re not saying they have nice guts.
Usually, we would mean that their soul is beautiful.
To say to someone, they’re “beautiful inside and out” is to say that they’re both attractive and kind. Although “beautiful” has been part of our language since the Romans, the phrase “beautiful inside and out” didn’t come about until the Victorian age.
“Beautiful” is sometimes more creepy than complimentary. Still, giving compliments (when done correctly) can be the perfect way to get people to like us, and get further in life.
Even though it should be “outside”, it still makes more sense than “You’re beautiful inside-out”.
When we compliment someone “inside”, we’re not saying they have nice guts, we’re saying they have a friendly soul.