Cute or not

“Cute” is a word people (read “my wife”) use to describe all kinds of things, and I’m constantly trying to decipher what she really means when she applies it something or someone.

For a while it seemed a fair bet that anything small and not an insect had great potential to be cute. Baby shoes are, apparently, cute enough to make a person giddy. Most puppies and kittens are cute, but not so much dogs and cats (with some exceptions, including big, furry Old English Sheep dogs).

Apparently this isn’t all that far off. Among the phrases used to define cuteness is “attractive by means of smallness or prettiness.” Another common way to describe the cute employs the word “dainty.”

There are other applications of this adjective, however, including my wife’s use of it to describe a new pair of my shoes. Men’s shoes are cute? Our feet are anything but dainty in most cases, and that’s exactly how most of us would have it. So what in a pair of men’s shoes constitutes cuteness?

Can anyone clarify this aesthetic term for me?


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

One Response to Cute or not

  1. Pingback: “Tiny things are always adorable” « The Aesthetic Elevator

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