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A student of mine used google translator to translate the Portuguese "miradouro" into English. Instead of an expected viewpoint, scenic overlook or similar, the translator suggested "belvedere". She has asked me the meaning of belvedere and I have been unable to find it in my two dictionaries (Longman and Oxford). So, what is 'belvedere' in English?

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I think all it's saying is that belvedere in Portuguese is belvedere in English. It's a name that's been used for certain products, for example the car: 1960-1970musclecars.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/… Unless there's some regional usage, in English, no one uses belvedere to refer to a scenic overlook –  dcaswell Sep 19 '13 at 17:08
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Belvedere has no meaning in Portuguese, outside brand names or similar. The word the student should have used in her text should have been viewpoint or a synonym. –  Sara Costa Sep 19 '13 at 17:23
    
FWIW, this is what Google translate suggests (not that it's the best translation). –  josh3736 Sep 20 '13 at 0:56

3 Answers 3

up vote 18 down vote accepted

A "belvedere" is a structure which commands a scenic view, not the view itself. The word itself comes from the Italian for "beautiful view", but its English sense is limited to buildings and the like.

Merriam-Webster defines it:

: a structure (as a cupola or a summerhouse) designed to command a view

This M.C. Escher drawing entitled "Belvedere" is what comes to my mind when I think of the word:

enter image description here

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That's essentially the same in Italian: grandidizionari.it/Dizionario_Italiano/parola/b/… –  Pam Sep 19 '13 at 23:24
    
@Pam In Italian the word belvedere can be also used to describe the view itself, e.g. Il Palazzo Ducale è proprio un belvedere, or even with reference to a handsome person: Monica Bellucci è proprio un belvedere, although this kind of usage may sound colloquial. –  Bakuriu Sep 20 '13 at 9:16
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@nohat "A "belvedere" is a structure which commands a scenic view"---What does it mean to command a view? –  Geek Sep 20 '13 at 12:13
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To "command" means to hold something in control. So to "command a view" means that it holds that view. By going there, you can experience it, and no other place has such a view as that place. It also implies a very impressive view (because holding "command" over it suggests it is something worth commanding). –  Zibbobz Sep 20 '13 at 13:19

Belvedere - A roofed structure, especially a small pavilion or tower on top of a building, situated so as to command a wide view.

It seems as though this may actually be a more accurate translation than "viewpoint". However, it depends on the definition of "miradouro". If a "muradouro" is typically a viewpoint with a roofed overhang situated on a building, then a "belvedere" could be exactly what you're looking for.

If not, then it could be a percularity in translation. I suggest comparing definitions of miradouro (in Spanish) and belvedere to see how accurately the two compare.

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Miradouro refers to the place from where you can command a wide view, whether there is any structure or not. –  Sara Costa Sep 19 '13 at 17:25
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Then it is not necessarily a belvedere. From this and other definitions referenced in other answers, the strucutre portion of the belvedere seems to be an inherent part of it. So "belvedere" is not an exact translation, merely a structure that has those qualities. –  Zibbobz Sep 19 '13 at 17:35

Per wiktionary, a belvedere is “A turret or other raised structure offering a pleasant view of the surrounding area”. An example of its use:

The most important thing, she reflected, as she stood on the balcony of the Mairie which formed a most useful belvedere over the town, was to make her appearance as commonplace and down at heel as possible [...] (1919, Ronald Firbank, Valmouth, Duckworth, hardback edition, p. 57)

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