Grand, magnificent, imposing, stately, majestic, august, noble, grandiose are comparable when they mean large, handsome, dignified, and impressive. They vary somewhat in the emphasis which they respectively place on these qualities, and they differ somewhat also in their additional implications and connotations.
Grand emphasizes magnitude or greatness of dimensions; often, however, it is not physical largeness that is implied, but a spiritual, intellectual, or aesthetic greatness that makes the thing so described preeminent among its kind. It is distinguishable, however, from other words meaning very large (as big, huge, and colossal ) by its implications of handsomeness, dignity, and impressiveness.
Magnificent also may or may not imply actual physical largeness, but it always suggests an impressive largeness proportionate to the thing’s scale, without sacrifice of dignity or violation of the canons of good taste. The term was originally and is still in historical use applied to certain rulers, notable for their great deeds, the sumptuousness of their way of living, and the munificence of their gifts. In current general use it is often applied to ways of living or to the things (as houses, furnishings, clothes, and jewels) that contribute to a sumptuous and handsome way of living.
It is also applicable to many other things which are felt to be superior (as in beauty, elegance, or worth) often as contrasted with what may be described as plain or insignificant.
Imposing stresses impressiveness because of size and dignity or sometimes because of magnificence.
Stately usually emphasizes dignity, but there is an almost equal stress placed on handsomeness and impressiveness, and there is often an implication of larger than usual size.
Majestic combines the implications of imposing and stately, but it adds a strong connotation of solemn grandeur; it is applicable not only to tangible things (as persons, buildings, interiors, and furniture) but also to intangible things or to things that produce an aesthetic effect.
August implies impressiveness so strongly as to impute to the thing so described a power to inspire awe, veneration, or, in ironic use, abashment and dread. But it also ascribes a lofty or exalted character to whatever it qualifies.
Noble in this relation (see also MORAL ) carries no suggestion of a moral quality or of a social status; rather it implies a commanding grandeur or the power to impress the imagination, emotions, or the intellect as incomparably great or excellent.
Grandiose often implies an almost preposterous pretentiousness or pomposity, but it may also be used without derogation to imply a more than usual largeness of plan or scope or a grandeur or majesty exceeding that of life or experience.