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Is there any difference in meaning or nuance between "to pleasure someone" and "to bring pleasure to someone?"

What about between "to pleasure someone" and "to make someone happy?"

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3 Answers 3

"To pleasure somebody" is rather rare, and in modern English means only "to give sexual satisfaction to". Don't use it unless you mean that.

A less specific word is "gratify" - it can be used sexually, but it can also be used in a general sense.

"Bring pleasure to" and "make happy" are very close in meaning.

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To pleasure someone would usually involve sexual satisfaction. To bring pleasure to someone doesn't have that sense as strongly. This may be because the latter isn't used as commonly, so the listener takes the words at their immediate value.

To make someone happy would be similar to to bring pleasure to someone rather than to pleasure someone, for the reasons above.

To please someone would be a concise alternative that doesn't have sexual connotations.

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  1. "To pleasure" means that there is an active party: a book may bring pleasure to you, or please you, but it cannot pleasure you. It often carries a sexual connotation, but not exclusively.
  2. Happiness and pleasure are two distinct concepts: you may experience happiness without much pleasure in your life, and you can certainly live a life full of pleasure without being truly happy.
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I have to at least partially disagree that happiness and pleasure are two distinct concepts. All of Merriam-Webster, TheFreeDictionary and Google define mention pleased or pleasure in their definitions for happy, and in their definitions for pleasure mention enjoyment or delight, which go through joy back to happiness. Even if there are subtle differences in some of their uses, they generally refer to the same thing. The main distinction, I'd say, is with physical pleasure as opposed to pleasure in general. –  Samthere Aug 19 '11 at 14:40

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