Understanding the Difference Between Tasteful and Tasty

Tasteful setting with tasty wine and food.

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The words tasteful and tasty are closely related in meaning and both have favorable connotations, but these two adjectives are not interchangeable.


Tasteful means having or showing good taste (as in "the tasteful decor of the theater").

Tasty means flavorful or palatable—usually a reference to something that tastes good ("a tasty dessert of pumpkin, mashed yam, and boiled ginkgo nuts").

The antonym of both tasteful and tasty is tasteless.

Examples of Tasteful

  • "On the one hand, there is Jay Gatsby, with his shadily acquired resources, his pastel clothes, and preposterous mansion; on the other hand, Tom Buchanan, with his familial inheritance, his tweeds, and his tasteful estate."
    (Gordon Milne, The Sense of Society. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1977)
  • "This is not part of the taupe takeover of interiors or even the achingly chic Martha Stewart stories featuring quietly tasteful spaces with collections of drab ware and bowls of eggs in various shades of brown and blue."
    (Rita Konig, "In the Home, Blah Is Beautiful." The New York Times Style Magazine, March 17, 2016)

Examples of Tasty

  • "Jamie has easy-to-follow videos featuring recipes for tasty treats like 100-calorie poppadoms, which are thin and crispy snacks."
    ("Jamie Oliver: The Celebrity Chef Helps His Youngest Fans." The Guardian, April 26, 2016)
  • "Len the local butcher slammed the door of his delivery van. Short, plump, and with a bald pink head, he often joked that he wasn't unlike one of his tasty homemade sausages himself."
    (Monica McInerney, The Alphabet Sisters. Ballantine, 2005)

Usage Notes: Tasteful, Tasty, and Delicious

  • "Both adjectives are approving, though tasty usually applies to food and drink and tasteful to anything that shows good taste or is generally agreeable and attractive. 'The lunch was tasty, and the table arrangement was tasteful to go with it.'"
    (Adrian Room, Dictionary of Confusable Words. Routledge, 2000)
  • "These two adjectives relate to different senses of the word taste. Tasteful is applied to things that indicate good taste, in the sense of 'aesthetic discrimination'; tasty is applied to things that have good taste, in the sense of 'flavour': tasteful furnishings - a tasty meal. Careful users maintain the distinction between the two words."
    (Martin H. Manser, Good Word Guide, 7th ed. Bloomsbury, 2011)
  • "Tasteful . . . refers to something that is made or selected with good taste. This especially applies to clothing and decor: We were all very surprised to see the modern bathrooms and tasteful surroundings.
    "Tasty . . . generally refers to food with a pleasant taste: Mussels make a very tasty pasta sauce. However, a tasty bit of news means gossip.
    "Delicious . . . means very pleasant to the taste or smell: What a delicious aroma coming from the kitchenroast beef and Yorkshire pudding."
    (Graham Pointon and Stewart Clark, Words: A User's Guide. Taylor & Francis, 2009)

Practice Exercise

(a) "Be sure to leave room for the _____ desserts, which include a chilled lemon soufflé, white chocolate and lemon mousse, tropical cheesecake, and crème brûlée."
(Jason R. Rich, The Business Traveler Guide to Orlando. Entrepreneur Media, 2008) (Answer: tasty)
(b) When he spoke of Celia I cared not at all. Her pretty manners, the fresh flowers of her parlour, her marvelous needlework and her _____ sketches meant nothing to me." (Answer: tasteful)
(Philippa Gregory, Wideacre. Touchstone, 1987)

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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Understanding the Difference Between Tasteful and Tasty." ThoughtCo, Sep. 9, 2021, thoughtco.com/tasteful-and-tasty-1689504. Nordquist, Richard. (2021, September 9). Understanding the Difference Between Tasteful and Tasty. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/tasteful-and-tasty-1689504 Nordquist, Richard. "Understanding the Difference Between Tasteful and Tasty." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/tasteful-and-tasty-1689504 (accessed February 4, 2023).