If I wanted to express something adds to the beauty of a place I'd use words like: embellish, adorn, beautify, et cetera.

What is the word which is used to express that something decreases the beauty of the place?

  • 13
    I like mar for this.
    – Gerger
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 17:22
  • 1
    You mean specifically beauty of a place, not a person, object, concept or other thing.
    – smci
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 3:39
  • -1 it looks like very little research went into the making of this question. A quick search for antonyms or even googling "opposite of beautify" would've given a plethora of candidates.
    – kettlecrab
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 16:41
  • Are you talking about an act or a thing? And something ugly that is added, or {damage to|removal of} something beautiful? Deliberate or unintentional?
    – Beta
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 6:52

10 Answers 10


Such near-synonyms as mar, spoil, impair, disfigure, deface, detract from, blot, scar, ruin, blemish, mutilate, deform and blight would all be possibilities.

  • my favourite: to defile. Also nice: to debase, to degrade, to de-whatever essentially.
    – PatrickT
    Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 7:26

Tarnish has the added implication that object in question was bright, shiny, and beautiful to begin with. merriam-webster

  • 1
    +1, also, taint (implies it had purity-related beauty before being sullied), degrade (implies it was in fine condition or good state of integrity before being damaged, physically or reputationally), corrode (similar but suggests steady damage over time rather than damage from one incident) Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 10:48

I prefer to use sully: to damage or ruin the good quality of (something) Merriam-Webster

  • 1
    Sully was my first thought, too.
    – nomen
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 22:33

uglify is commonly used, at least among programmers, as the opposite of beautify. It is, itself, an ugly word, and ideally would not be your first choice in any literary context; however, all the other examples given (tarnish, blight, etc.) all have further implications - e.g. tarnish literally means to lose brightness, while blight implies the subject is a plant.

I think that mar is probably the best word, but for pure technical precision, you can't beat uglify.

  • 1
    I don't agree blight implies a plant. Urban blight has little to do with plants.
    – Dan Barron
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 16:49
  • enlaidir (French), afear (Spanish), enfear (Portuguese), imbruttire (Italian), for the ones I know: it's about time English had uglify. +1. But I must admit, I'd never heard it before.
    – PatrickT
    Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 7:29
  • @PatrickT Never read "Alice in Wonderland"?
    – bof
    Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 9:46
  • @bof, I meant in real life, I've never heard anyone use it without obviously making a reference to Alice. (I'm a big fan of Alice, I was at Christ Church to visit the rabbit hole)
    – PatrickT
    Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 14:16
  • 1
    @PatrickT then it might just be a programmer thing. When I google "uglify" I mostly get UglifyJS, so that might be where I got it from. But, it is in the merriam-webster: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/uglify
    – Benubird
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 9:11

The other answers are probably better for serious writing, but I still like Lewis Carroll's uglification for pure whimsy.

  • There's also "hit with the ugly stick", which is a modern, similarly silly expression Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 10:50
  • Lewis Carroll may have put "uglification" on the map but he doesn't own it. The online OED has citations going back to 1820 for "uglification" and 1576 for "uglify" or rather "vglyfyeth" as it was spelled and conjugated back then.
    – bof
    Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 9:56

Besmirch. To mar or sully something which once was in good state.


Yes, to other answers. Also consider diminish.

  • 4
    'diminish' is a good suggestion, but could you edit your answer so it is more of...well... and answer rather than a casual comment?
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 19:24
  • Can you provide a definition and a source? Your answer needs more of an explanation, not just a comment on other answers followed by a one-word response to the question.
    – Nicole
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 20:47
  • 1
    @Mitch: "an [emphasis mine] answer...", yes?
    – EM Fields
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 5:28

In reference to a place, "pollute" would be a possibility. My first thought was "mar", but "blemish" or "deface" are also good options.


First thing I thought of was tainted.

  • 2
    Welcome to ELU. Tainted is not a verb, but taint would do.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 21:30

Lack luster. Implies at one point said object was beautiful and shiny, also could be used to compare to another object as in, "Due to your new rims, your paint job has been rendered slightly lack luster.

  • 3
    Lackluster is one word. And it is actually more about "lacking brightness, luster, or vitality; dull" wordnik.com/words/lackluster I don't think it necessarily implies that an object was ever beautiful or shiny.
    – JLG
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 21:57
  • Also, it appears the questioner was looking for a verb. I'm not certain you would convert Lackluster to a verb, but I doubt it would be elegant. Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 16:15

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