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Is there a word that describes something that is weird, strange, odd, bizarre, etc. but also beautiful, wonderful, amazing, fantastic, etc.?

Example: a word to describe a place that is strangely lovely, welcoming, and peaceful despite it being absurd and ridiculous looking/feeling.

I found the word, "Selcouth", but I don't think that word would be a good fit for what I need. Basically, I'm looking for synonyms of Selcouth (if there are any) but not necessarily just synonyms of Selcouth. I also don't want to use general, everyday words like weird or wonderful, etc.

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8 Answers 8

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The word fantastical might fit. Cambridge defines one sense of it as:

strange and wonderful, like something out of a story

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    I think fantastic[al] is the closest you can get with a single word. While not outright bizarre, it's still fanciful, and also carries a positive vibe, even though it does not get all the way to "beautiful". Commented May 29 at 9:49
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I would use wondrous here:

If you describe something as wondrous, you mean it is strange and beautiful or impressive.
[literary]

We were driven across this wondrous vast land of lakes and forests. (Collins)

Vocabulary.com has a usage note that sheds more light on its meaning:

The adjective wondrous is a great word to use when you're describing something amazing or delightful. You could talk about the wondrous view of the ocean from the cliffs where you're standing.

There's a hint of magic and awe about the word wondrous. It describes things that inspire wonder, like a wondrous imaginary land or a wondrous display of beautiful, elaborate cakes at a pastry shop. The root is the Old English wundor, "marvelous thing, or object of astonishment."

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    A display of beautiful cakes e.g. may be wonderful (wondrous), but how is it weird, strange, or bizarre? Commented May 27 at 13:24
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    I wouldn't describe a display of cake as wondrous, I must say...
    – fev
    Commented May 27 at 13:34
  • or the compound phrase, "wondrous strange" Commented May 28 at 16:56
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    @fev Mine would be more likely to be labelled bizarre. Commented May 28 at 23:08
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The word with a large overlap between the two different senses required is (as proposed by Xanne) exotic:

exotic [adjective]

  1. having a strange or bizarre allure, beauty, or quality

    2'. strange or different in a way that is striking or fascinating; strangely beautiful, enticing, etc.

[Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition; selective]

It is, however, polysemous (having other senses).

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    striking : attracting attention by reason of being unusual, extreme, or prominent. dramatically good-looking or beautiful. +1. ... (exotic : originating in or characteristic of a distant foreign country) -1. ... (Oxford Languages)
    – Mazura
    Commented May 28 at 18:44
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For beautiful and strange, you might try a word with both of these definitions (though one of them is considered obsolete or dialectical):

curious adjective & adverb

II.14. † Without explicit reference to workmanship: Exquisite, choice, excellent, fine (in beauty, flavour, or other good quality). Obsolete or dialect. (Cf. modern use of nice.) c1475–1816
[selected attestations]
1665   A very calme curious morning. —S. Pepys, Diary 24 September (1972) vol. VI. 240
1725   In about thirty or forty Days it will be curious Vinegar. —R. Bradley, Chomel's Dictionaire Œconomique at Vinegar

II.16.a. Deserving or exciting attention on account of its novelty or peculiarity; exciting curiosity; somewhat surprising, strange, singular, odd; queer. (The ordinary current objective sense.) 1715–
[selected attestations]
1719   What is Rare, and Curious without any Other consideration we Naturally take Pleasure in. —J. Richardson, Sci. Connoisseur 204
1868   Seated in the piazza..I had before me a curious scene. —C. W. Dilke, Greater Britain vol. II. iv. 163

Source: Oxford English Dictionary (login required)

So, for example:

Curious Worlds of the Universe

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  • Curious is the go-to word in Lovecraft's work.
    – pipe
    Commented May 27 at 16:55
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In the US they would say "far out". It has both the connotation of oddness and that of being appreciated.

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  • Maybe 30 years ago... that phrase is not so common in the US anymore. FWIW, it means something closer to "that's weird and I love it" than "that's weird and beautiful."
    – JakeRobb
    Commented May 29 at 17:30
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"Quaint" is where my mind goes, it is defined as 'attractively unusual or old-fashioned' which captures what you want.

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  • Not exactly synonymous with 'fantastical', but still a valid response. Commented May 28 at 15:36
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    But this word almost always means old fashioned. I don't think OP has mentioned old fashioned anywhere in the question.
    – user405662
    Commented May 28 at 15:42
  • Old fashioned things are often beautiful and bizarre, so for that reason I'd say it is still valid.
    – thran
    Commented May 28 at 15:58
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I would use two words to convey the negative and the positive like strangely intoxicating, something like that, or oddly wonderous.

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    -1 – wonderous has already been suggested. As for "strangely intoxicating" you might as well say "strangely/oddly beautiful" both of which work very well.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 28 at 13:51
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I think the word you are looking for is simply stunning.

This word can be used in place for all of the words you have in your question but moreover it is one of the "ultimate" words for both beautiful and bizarre.

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  • For me, this use of "stunning" implies that the thing in question is exceptionally beautiful, but not in an unconventional/bizarre way.
    – JakeRobb
    Commented May 29 at 17:33
  • @JakeRobb - wouldn't an alien spaceship landing in your back yard be a stunning event? Commented May 29 at 19:45
  • It probably would! But that'd be the first definition here, whereas we're talking about the second definition in this question. (Depending on what the ship looks like, it could potentially be both.)
    – JakeRobb
    Commented May 30 at 16:39

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