Can someone explain the phrase "achingly beautiful"? I often find myself reaching for it, while being unsure how to break down the meaning of it.

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    It would normally be interpreted to mean that the beauty is so extreme that it almost seems to cause pain -- it makes your heart ache. The sort of thing that might be said of an extremely attractive person of the opposite sex. – Hot Licks Jan 15 at 1:54
  • I like this answer better than the one currently below! Want to add it as answer? If not I will – tog22 Jan 16 at 0:21
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    Your comparison to an extremely attractive person of the opposite sex also makes me realize there's an element of longing and even sadness in aching beauty. Perhaps it's tied up with the recognition that we're mortal (and often caught up in the mundane) so don't get to experience the aching beauty of life and the world as much as we'd like. – tog22 Jan 16 at 0:23
  • By "reaching for it", I take it that you are using the term. In that case, you're in a much better position than we are to explain what you mean by the term. – Lawrence Jan 18 at 16:31
  • @Lawrence, that's not always the case - often one can't articulate or spell out what one means. Sometimes it's helpful to look up a word one knows how to use in a dictionary, to see an articulation of what one means! In philosophy, this is the distinction between 'knowledge how' and 'knowledge that'. – tog22 Jan 19 at 0:06

achingly Collins Dictionary

adverb [ADV adj/adv]

You can use achingly for emphasis when you are referring to things that create feelings of wanting something very much, but of not being able to have it. [written, emphasis] As in ... three achingly beautiful ballads.

beautiful - no definition needed

This is one of the most achingly beautiful cars in the world. The Sun (2007),

but you cannot have one!

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