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I've heard adorable sometimes used for kids. Is it ever used to describe an adult?

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Brian Hyland (and others) seemed to think so: youtu.be/MjBOv-I5fmg. –  Barrie England Oct 29 '11 at 5:57
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4 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Yes. If the adult is adorable.

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Adorable can be used with adults, and domestic animals.

My wife is so adorable.
I have four adorable Siamese cats.

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The word adorable as applied to an adult has to mean more than "good looking" or even "sexually attractive". For example, Matt Bellassai describes the Australian diver Matthew Mitcham as "the most adorable Olympian ever". If you read that article, it's quite clear that Matt finds Matthew attractive, but there's more to it than that. Matthew is "adorable" because he's cute, friendly, playful, and approachable. The word, as applied to adults, suggests a certain whimsy as well as good looks.

And the good looks of a Greek God or a model aren't really adorable either. It's the "cute" look you want, which is a bit harder to define. It's the sort of person who looks good with a good-natured grin, and who often has such a grin. (Perhaps I'm putting a little too much of my own taste into this bit.)

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I especially hear adorable applied to the elderly. There is no reason it can't be applied to other adults as well.

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The only reason not to might be that it always sounds a bit patronizing, at least to my British ears, when used to describe adults. –  scottishwildcat Nov 4 '11 at 20:01
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