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I would like to know what the first sentence means (from a story, it is a description of a hornet):

It was wonderfully made, both before and behind. Its wings were folded upon its terrible body.

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If a created thing is 'wonderfully made' it is considered by the speaker to be attractively, beautifully, cleverly, neatly (etc) constructed, shaped, or formed. For example a piece of jewellery, cleverly designed machine, or work of art.

Whether you believe that people, creatures, or plants, in nature, are 'made' in that way depends on your religious beliefs, but even if you don't, you can say that a hornet is 'wonderfully made' without necessarily believing in a divine creator. People often say that an attractive person is "well put together", or that a strong man is 'well built', without implying belief in an assembler or builder.

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  • Thank you, I understand. Even the actual process of natural selection, mutation, and adaptation that governs all the cell-based organisms can be surely described this way. Thanks for the clear explanation
    – John V
    Dec 30, 2020 at 12:54
  • One additional thing, though: "both before and behind", has this any special meaning?
    – John V
    Dec 30, 2020 at 12:57
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    It may be an echo of Psalm 139:14, which in many versions contains the phrase "I am fearfully and wonderfully made". 'Before and behind' means 'the front and rear ends'. Dec 30, 2020 at 13:46
  • We can say that valleys are 'made' when rivers erode rock, without imputing conscious volition or action. Dec 30, 2020 at 15:16
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made is past participle of make and conveys its basic meaning "create(d)/produce(d)/build(t)/construct(ed)", as in

He was wearing a suit made from pure silk.

The house was made of wood with an iron roof.

If something is wonderfully made, it's wonderful/beautiful/attractive/aesthetically pleasing.

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