I have a family member who worked at a cat boarding facility. There, she met a couple who jokingly described their cat as "beautiful but worthless." Is there a word in the English language to describe such a purrradox? (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
You could say Mrs. Whiskers is purely ornamental.
For example, Cambridge gives the definition of "ornamental" as precisely "beautiful rather than useful":
Ornamental plants are plants which are grown for display purposes, rather than functional ones.
You could also say Princess Pretty Paws is cosmetic, decorative, or even a mere bauble. Just don't do it to her face.
Buried at the end of Dan's answer, without getting a fair shake:
bau·ble /ˈbôbəl/ noun
- something that is superficially attractive but useless or worthless.
Caryatids are ornamental. Ornate although they are, they're not baubles; the roof of the Erechtheion requires them for support.
It's an obscure word: gewgaw.
From the New Oxford American Dictonary:
a showy thing, especially one that is useless or worthless.
The kitty is purrty.
pretty: (often pejorative) Fine-looking; only superficially attractive; initially appealing but having little substance [Wiktionary]
You can say that that particular thing is just "for show".
For the sake of appearance rather than for use (Oxford Dictionaries)
It was a commonplace of Roman food writing to despise complicated dishes designed for show rather than for taste
If you really want to use a single word for this, you might have to settle for an analogy. The problem then becomes the obscurity of the reference, which would then require explanation, thus revealing the economy of words to be illusory. However, here are a couple of examples:
The last has the virtue of actually being in the dictionary.
Perhaps you're looking for meretricious!
apparently attractive but having in reality no value or integrity.
 "Meretricious, n.1." OED Online. Oxford University Press, April 2016. Web. 21 April 2016.
verb (used with object)
to coat with gold, gold leaf, or a gold-colored substance.
to give a bright, pleasing, or specious aspect to.
You could also use folly perhaps in a more specific sense:
- A structure, such as a pavilion in a garden, that is chiefly decorative rather than practical in purpose.
If you mean something that you couldn't sell for much money but is nevertheless worth a lot to you, I'd say it had purely sentimental value.
protected by Community♦ May 7 '15 at 17:03
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