ravishing

or to ravish

[rav-i-shing] or [rav-ish]

What does ravishing or to ravish mean?

Someone, usually a woman, called ravishing is "stunningly beautiful."

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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.

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Examples of ravishing

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Examples of ravishing
Calm her heart, / Comfort her soul, / Ravish her body
@mahoganycream4, October 2017
We should probably think of Waterhouse’s art as mood music. Its point is it’s beauty – no more, no less. And it is ravishing. Ophelia (1894), The Lady of Shalott (1894), & Phyllis waterlow (1895)
@RobertBohan, October 2018
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

Where does ravishing come from?

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Ravishing begins with the Latin rapere, “to seize or carry off by force.” Via French, this verb ultimately formed such English words as ravenous, rape, rapidravage, and ravish.

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.

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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 of something “enchanting” or “beautiful.”

Who uses ravishing?

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.

Contrary to its rape-related origins, to be ravished in contemporary English can be something many women would like in the bedroom. Ravish implies out-of-this-world, physically intense, and yet very romantic sex with a partner, typically where the woman’s pleasure is prioritized. It can be a fine line, however, as men may express the desire to ravish certain ladies, hopefully to make her happy but mostly likely just with the aim of feeling like Casanova.

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