Certainly, I can have many relationships that I describe as beloved (adj).

"These are my beloved children."

But, according to common understanding, can I have more than one beloved (noun)? If I refer to someone as "My beloved," does that imply to to listener that I am speaking of my romantic one-and-only?

(Note: I am not asking a philosophical question about monogamy. Only about common interpretation of a word ;)

ADDITION (based on comments/answers): Can anyone find a reputable example of the plural "beloveds" used in a context that implies more than one beloved per person?

  • No, I would not interpret it that way. And isn't this something one can find in a dictionary? – GEdgar Oct 16 '11 at 3:30
  • 2
    @GEdgar I looked in several dictionaries. They were not explicit. I asked because this is how I personally would interpret it. It is how my roommate would interpret it. I have never heard it in any other context, nor have I ever seen or heard it in the plural. – Angada Oct 16 '11 at 3:32
  • It's definitely singular for "beloved wife" if you value your marriage! – Randolf Richardson Oct 16 '11 at 3:52
  • 1
    @RandolfRichardson: It has been clearly stated that this is not a philosophical question, so why would you even start with that? Furthermore, your comment is off-topic, because the question is not about the adjective, but about the noun. – RiMMER Oct 16 '11 at 4:12
  • At a marriage ceremony, the officiant begins by addressing the entire congregation as "Dearly beloved". Or have I misinterpreted that? – GEdgar Oct 16 '11 at 12:47

The plural of beloved is beloveds, therefore you would say:

My beloveds.

By that note, my beloved can only be understood as one beloved, one person. Unless that listener's English is poor, that is.

For a further example, there's a book called Lovers and Beloveds.

Also, what about Dante's Two Beloveds?

Re-examining key passages in Dante’s oeuvre in the light of the crucial issue of moral choice, this book provides a new thematic framework for interpreting the Divine Comedy. Olivia Holmes shows how Dante articulated the relationship between the human and the divine as an erotic choice between two attractive women — Beatrice and the “other woman.” Investigating the traditions and archetypes that contributed to the formation of Dante’s two beloveds, Holmes shows how Dante brilliantly overlaid and combined these paradigms in his poem.

  • Thanks for the link. Is there any dictionary that is not publicly editable that also lists the plural form? I can't find one. – Angada Oct 16 '11 at 3:35
  • Ah, nice addition of the book. – Angada Oct 16 '11 at 3:36
  • 2
    Shouldn't "beloved" be the standard English plural of "beloved"? Emma Lazarus didn't write "Give me your tireds, your poors ...". This would explain why "beloveds" is so rare. – Peter Shor Oct 16 '11 at 11:41
  • 1
    @PeterShor Perhaps NY's unemployeds can be put to work carving the S's in. – user13141 Oct 16 '11 at 11:49
  • 1
    I think OP is simply conflating usage of beloved with betrothed, spouse, etc. - words which in most cultures invariably identfy a single individual. As a noun, beloved may be used that way, but it can also be used the same as flatmate, penpal, etc. where there's no necessary implication of only one person occupying that role. – FumbleFingers Oct 16 '11 at 15:55

Here is an often mentioned quote by political humorist and writer Molly Ivins: "The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.