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?

3 Answers 3


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.
  • 1
    I agree (+1), but it's interesting that "distasteful" does work to describe a person ("I find him distasteful" and so on). It's a bit stiff and maybe a little old-fashioned though.
    – TypeIA
    Nov 14, 2020 at 10:26
  • “Ah — a woman of taste!”  “Yes. Raspberry ripple, as a matter of fact.”  [I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again]
    – gidds
    Nov 14, 2020 at 19:53
  • Also interesting that tasteless persists to describe a person who doesn't have good taste.
    – Barmar
    Nov 14, 2020 at 23:24
  • @Barmar: Hm, interesting. I think "tasteless" might work in senses like: "tasteless artist"—but I would opt for "without taste" as a more natural alternative.
    – Ted Pal
    Nov 16, 2020 at 9:52
  • 1
    @TedPal It is "that" instead of "the" in the sentence, As some have noted in the comments, it's very interesting that the negative version of the word, distasteful works in some restricted contexts. Nov 16, 2020 at 10:00

"Tasteful" is used more for things than people. It's also is more of a negative word. Not negative in the sense of bad, but negative in the sense of saying what something is not. If something is tasteful, it isn't offensive. It's avoiding anything that could stand out as objectionable. It can be accomplished by being ordinary and unnoticed.

"Good taste" is more of a positive term. It implies an ability to find things that are better than the ordinary.


You would say that a person "has good taste" or simply "has taste". You can be more specific and say that a person "has good taste in clothes", or "in decor".

The things that a person with good taste chooses would be "tasteful".

-She has good taste.
-Yes, her home decor is very tasteful.

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