Creature Comforts

This is the place to post questions and discussions on usage and style. The members of the Wordwizard Clubhouse will also often be able to help you to formulate that difficult letter.
Post Reply

Creature Comforts

Post by Archived Topic » Fri Jan 04, 2002 11:49 am

I need some clarification on the discussion you can find at http://www.idioms.ru/?q=node/view/1289. We're battling over a correct way of transalting the phrase into Russian.

The question is: Are 'creature comforts' the basic essentials or not?
Submitted by Julie Kay (Bronnitsy - Russia)
Post actions:
Signature: Topic imported and archived

Creature Comforts

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Jan 04, 2002 12:03 pm

Julie, According to various dictionaries CREATURE COMFORTS are defined as follows:

1) Things that contribute to bodily comfort and ease, as food, warmth, a comfortable bed, hot water for bathing, etc. (Random House Unabridged Dictionary

2) Something (as food or warmth) that gives bodily comfort. (Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary)

3) Something, such as food and warmth, that contributes to physical comfort. (American Heritage Dictionary

4) Luxuries: things considered necessary for a comfortable life. (Encarta)

5) Material comforts such as good food and accommodation. (Compact Oxford English Dictionary)

6) Material comforts such as food and clothing. (Oxford English Dictionary)

7) The basic physical things that make life pleasant—good food, warm clothing, etc.: “The poor frequently lack the creature comforts the rest of us take for granted.” (New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy)

8) Things that make life more pleasant, such as good food and a comfortable place to live. (Cambridge Dictionary

Note: This expression was first recorded in 1659
__________________________________________

And I think I see the problem you are having in nailing down the precise meaning. The above definitions all agree that ‘creature comforts’ are material things that contribute to physical comfort, with ‘comfort’ being the common thread. But it is left somewhat ambiguous as to what these actually are. I think that the basic problem is that what constitutes ‘creature comforts’ – the essentials for comfort – probably dwells in the eyes of the beholder!

I would say, however, that ‘creature comforts’ are usually considered more than the ‘basic essentials.’ Notice that Encarta uses the word ‘luxuries’ – things considered necessary for a ‘comfortable’ life. So we are not talking about the ‘literal’ basic essentials – the bare minimum in order for one to exist –which are probably food, water, and possibly warmth/clothing/shelter (if you are trying to exist in a climate that requires them).

But, of course, the actual ‘essentials’ might depend on one’s definition of that word. Donald Trumps ‘essential’ might include a chauffer-driven limousine, whereas someone else’s might be a pair of shoes to get around in. So this whole business, it seems, depends on definitions of such ‘subjective’ words as ‘comfort’ and ‘essentials.’

In general, I think, one could say that ‘creature comforts’ seem to be the things that make for a ‘comfortable’ life, things that make life ‘pleasant’ and not just ‘bearable.’ But, of course, one man’s ‘creature comforts’ may be another man’s . . . . – it’s all relative. But generally, in order to be ‘comfortable,’ rather than just having ‘food,’ one might require ‘good food’ (as the Compact Oxford English Dictionary says) with ‘good’ being another relative term (the Donald requiring fillet mignon and foie gras), and rather than just a place to live, one might want ‘good accommodations’ (possibly including such ‘creature comforts’ as air-conditioning, a microwave oven, . . . and for Donald a view from the 92nd floor), . . .

But as far as what actually constitutes a particular creature comfort – well, didn’t Einstein address this issue in one of his theories? (<:)
________________________

Ken G – September 29, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Creature Comforts

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Jan 04, 2002 12:17 pm

I inadvertently failed to include above, what I consider, the neatest definitions I found (i.e. succinctly describes what the term really means, although still vague)

‘Facts on File Encyclopedia of Clichés’:

CREATURE COMFORTS: Life’s material amenities
_____________________________________

And going to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary

AMENITY: any feature that provides comfort, convenience, or pleasure: “The house has a swimming pool, two fireplaces, and other amenities.”

And thus, we see in this example that the general theory of relativity has been applied and that ‘a swimming pool’ and ‘two fireplaces’ may be regarded by some as ‘creature comforts.’
________________________

Ken G – September 29, 2004


Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Creature Comforts

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Jan 04, 2002 12:32 pm

We have a swimming pool and other amenities but only one fireplace. Could we sub the cabana or the barn?
Reply from dale hileman (Apple Valley, CA - U.S.A.)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

Creature Comforts

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Jan 04, 2002 12:46 pm

Fur coats and crocodile-skin shoes. Not too comfortable for the creatures, though.
Reply from Edwin Ashworth (Oldham - England)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

End of topic.
Post Reply