Can we say someone is a “tasteful” person?

He seems like a tasteful person.

Does this sentence mean the person has good taste?

Is it wrong to call a person tasteful? I mean, do we always say he or she has good taste?


Short answer: Not really. You’re better off saying the person has good taste.

Tasteful, in my opinion, and looking at examples of the word in context, works best when talking about choices or objects:

  • tasteful décor
  • tasteful design
  • a tasteful dress
  • a tasteful choice

Scanning entries for tasteful in context, it’s rarely used in the context of a person, though historically it is possible.

The OED lists it as a possibility:

  1. a. Having or showing good taste, as a person; displaying good taste, as a work of art, etc.

The only example of the word in context used is from an 1849 publication: "a tasteful publisher".

In this vein, you could probably get away with using tasteful in the context of a profession which requires some degree of taste/choice:

  • a tasteful collector
  • a tasteful designer

In the case of a tasteful person, I would opt to describe the person’s taste:

He has good taste. She has a refined sense of style.

As some have noted in the comments, it’s very interesting that the negative version of the word, distasteful works in some restricted contexts. In reality, it sounds a little more stiff and formal and is probably less likely to be used in casual speech.

  • I found his behavior extremely distasteful.
  • She’s a distasteful candidate.

Tasteless most often works when talking about objects or behavior/actions.

  • It feels tasteless to remarry so quickly.
  • The film was quickly done and rather tasteless.

Source : Link , Question Author : Soumya Ghosh , Answer Author : Ted Pal

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