THINK YOU’VE GOT A HANDLE ON THIS US STATE NICKNAME QUIZ?
OTHER WORDS FROM ravishingrav·ish·ing·ly, adverb
Words nearby ravishing
ABOUT THIS WORD
What else does ravishing mean?
Content warning: this article contains sexual language.
Someone, usually a woman, called ravishing is “stunningly beautiful.”
To ravish someone historically meant to “plunder” or “violently seize and rape a woman,” but in contemporary speech it refers to wanting passionate, consensual intercourse with a person.
Where does ravishing come from?
Ravish is recorded in the early 1300s. While it could more generally mean “rob” or “plunder,” ravish was specifically used of violently “dragging a woman away,” often involving rape.
The “rape” and “plunder” ravish now sounds more obsolete, and the sense of the verb has softened. If you say you want to ravish someone today, it usually means you really want to have passionate, consensual sex with them.
Ravish also survives in ravishing, as in you look ravishing. This sense is found in the 1400s, originally of something that produced a strong emotion in a person (i.e., something that has really seized them). That’s how ravishing gets used for something “enchanting” or “beautiful.”
How is ravishing used in real life?
In contemporary English, ravishing is primarily used to compliment women as captivating in their looks and, sometimes, personality. One may especially hear the word, say, during the Academy Awards as women take to the red carpet looking ravishing in their gowns. Ravishing may also be used of works of art, like music or paintings.
Win or lose Lana will always be #Ravishing 💙🙌
— Adrieyuanna (@adriejones) August 7, 2018
Contrary to its rape-related origins, to be ravished in contemporary English can be something people like.
More examples of ravishing:
“Stunning! Teri Hatcher was ravishing in a red dress on Friday Afternoon. The 53-year-old brunette beauty was on a panel to discuss her TV show Lois & Clark at the Comic-Con panel in New York City.”
—Heidi Parker, Daily Mail (caption), October 2018
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
Example sentences from the Web for ravishing
Let there be wine, food, music, and ravishing summer landscapes from Alpine meadows to Riviera beaches.Obama’s Extravagant Summer Break? More Like, America’s Vacation-Deficit Disorder|Clive Irving|August 10, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Nor is the ravishing Iva, who, when introduced to Nina, says, “I want your hair.”A Country House of Fools: Norman Rush’s ‘Subtle Bodies’|Tom LeClair|September 10, 2013|DAILY BEAST
The party is in a ravishing house with a blue tiled pool and slim, tall, swaying palms.
And then there is Carole Lombard, ravishing, sexy, happy, and glorious in her gowns.
In some, waves of silk and ribbon broke over shores of imitation moss from which ravishing hats rose like tropical orchids.Summer|Edith Wharton
The dressing-room was really a ravishing boudoir hung with pale blue satin, studded with marguerites.
It was interesting to watch the transformation of this rather neglected, commonplace garden into a place of ravishing beauty.
Margaret, ravishing in white lace, sprinkled with little gold butterflies, had taken her place at the head of her table.The Butterfly House|Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Her drenched clothes were an excuse for a new and ravishing toilette.Stories in Light and Shadow|Bret Harte