She looked the epitome of elegance and good taste.

I saw this single sentence in a dictionary and feel a confusion over the meaning of the verb "look" here. It would help me to guess the meaning if I could see it in a context but like this, it makes me wonder if it means "She seemed like the epitome of..." or "She looked at -another person who was- the epitome of..." I feel for it to convey the second meaning it should come with the preposition "at" after it but I'm not sure if this is mandatory. So I'm confused,...


Looked has more than one meaning depending on the context.

Used without a preposition, it is describing how somebody or something seems, or appears. For example:

  • She looked happy.
  • She looked silly.
  • She looked the epitome of elegance and good taste.

So in your example, she is presumably wearing very elegant and tasteful clothes. When other people see her, they think she seems elegant.

Used with a preposition, it is describing the action of turning your eyes towards something, or gazing at something, for example:

  • She looked at her friend.
  • She looked through the window.
  • She looked in the mirror.
  • She looked at herself in the mirror.

Or in some contexts "looked" doesn't relate to vision or eyesight at all, it can be more about holding an idea in your mind. For example:

  • She looked forward to the day when her friend would visit.

Or "looked up to" means "had respect for", as in, "She looked up to her teacher."

  • So the secret lays in whether it has an article following it or not. Your complete reply made it clearly understandable for me. Thanks – Ardy May 18 '16 at 17:14
  • 1
    'The secret lies in whether...' To lay is a transitive verb, when using standard English. – Alan Carmack May 18 '16 at 21:00

looked = was (in this sentence)

She was the epitome of elegance and good taste.


  • Thanks. but what's the reason? I also guessed it meant "to seem" here but just needed some explanations and points to corroborate it,... – Ardy May 18 '16 at 8:56
  • 2
    @Ardy It's an expression. Like : He looked the picture of health. – Cathy Gartaganis May 18 '16 at 9:00

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