Many time my mind stops working when it comes to the usage and comprehension of English synonyms. Indeed, the vastness in English language make me puzzled for the proper use of the word in sentence. The reason is that one word has lot of synonyms and used based on condition.

In this time I can't distinguish the usage of following words :

Magnificent, Splendid, fabulous, sumptuous, marvelous

I am able to grab the meaning of these words through dictionary. Almost all dictionaries define these words as extremely, impressive, excellent. I'm really puzzled to what extent we can use these words.

For instance, I supposed that

magnificent is appropriate to scenarios, splendid (formal word of fabulous) is used in appearance, character

Am I right ? I found many times these words are used interchangeably.

For ex : which is correct in following sentence

magnificent/awesome/splendid/fabulous book, job, dinner, day ?

please help regarding exact usage of these words adding more examples

  • This is a case where the difference between the words' use will make itself apparent only through extensive interaction with English-speakers. The words are quite similar in meaning, and preference for them is more cultural than technical.
    – Misha R
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 8:50

2 Answers 2


You get a feeling for these adjectives, all of the type first-class, only if you look at the etymology.

Magnificent contains Latin magnus big, and ficere to make.

splendid from Latin splendidus adj bright, shiny

fabulous Latin, as in fables

sumptuous from Latin sumere/sumptus, to take. Something made by taking a lot of expensive material.

Marvelous, French/Latin. French la merveille wonder, Latin mirabilis wonderful.

For details see Etymonline or a Latin dictionary.

  • Just be careful not to follow this advice with "awful" and "awe-inspiring."
    – deadrat
    Commented Sep 7, 2015 at 8:26

Most of the words you mention are used interchangeably. Magnificent and fabulous have similar definitions and connotations when used in the positive sense of "awe-provoking." Splendid is slightly distinct, being "large and impressive in size, grandeur, extent, or conception" or "of the very best kind" (from Webster). Functionally, though, if you were to describe a "magnificent house," "fabulous house," or "splendid house," meaning a house that is amazing and impressive, you would be understood on all three counts.

Awesome may be appropriate in these contexts as well (and certainly is by definition), but it has an informal connotation. If you actually want to express that something inspires awe, it may be misleading. It has been used as slang to describe almost anything good, similar to the word "cool."

The standout is sumptuous, which has specific connotations of expensiveness or richness of material (or something that appears to be). Quoth Webster, sumptuous means "showing obvious signs of wealth and comfort."

A "sumptuous feast" is a phrase that comes to mind: rich, expensive food. You could also say, for example, "sumptuous dress" (meaning that the fabric looks costly) or even describe someone as leading a "sumptuous life" (meaning that the person's life is characterized by expensive things or activities). If you were to say a "sumptuous house," that's a specific idea you're expressing about its apparent expense.

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