Definition of handsome in English:


adjectivehandsomest, handsomer

  • 1(of a man) good-looking.

    • ‘He's handsome, with chiselled good looks and hypnotic blue eyes that make Mel Gibson's pale by comparison.’
    • ‘I have now place my first personal ad, inviting handsome fellows to ball games.’
    • ‘These are fine, upstanding, handsome men, who were all wearing their formal uniforms and drinking heavily.’
    • ‘The other bloke was handsome, tall, drink in hand and lazily people watching as I had been.’
    • ‘When he was courting Gertrude, he was a handsome man and a fine dancer.’
    • ‘He was extraordinarily handsome - better looking than most movie stars.’
    • ‘There's Irene at the wedding of a handsome chap and spunky blonde who we now call the mayor and mayoress.’
    • ‘In the same way as the handsome David replaced the good-looking Saul, Esther replaced Vashti.’
    • ‘I know I'm crazy, I mean who wouldn't want to go on a date with this cute and handsome guy?’
    • ‘Now, I don't find Brad Pitt in the slightest bit attractive, but I can accept that he's a handsome man.’
    • ‘I wouldn't say he's especially handsome, although he's reasonably good looking and presentable.’
    • ‘His face emerged for the first time, giving her a view of a stunningly handsome man of about thirty.’
    • ‘And he backed up a few steps and saw that a stunningly handsome man replaced the black hood and long cloak.’
    • ‘There is this girl who is very flirty with almost every guy she meets, especially tall, cute, handsome guys.’
    • ‘He couldn't deny that he was a handsome man, with fine features and light hair that waved over his forehead.’
    • ‘He's a very handsome guy, as you know, apparently, still good looking.’
    • ‘He was handsome, she was gorgeous and on screen they were electric.’
    • ‘And the great story of this is this little shy governess who isn't all that attractive really but she gets the handsome man, she gets Rochester.’
    • ‘But the man in her life, a trim, handsome fellow who works as an airline pilot, was sitting on the edge of the bed in his running gear, and tapping on a laptop.’
    • ‘Growing up he was tall and good looking and could be described as the most handsome man in the parish.’
    good-looking, nice-looking, attractive, personable, striking, stunning, fine, well-proportioned, well-formed
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    1. 1.1 (of a woman) striking and imposing rather than conventionally pretty.
      • ‘A tall, handsome woman with the colouring and cheekbones of her Irish engineer father, Murphy exudes both strength and sensitivity.’
      • ‘A handsome girl, elegantly dressed and holding a large fan, gazes out over the balustrade.’
      • ‘She's now a quite handsome woman, I don't really know her but we have a mutual friend.’
      • ‘A tall, strong, handsome woman, she looks momentarily lost and vulnerable.’
      • ‘Actually, he reflected, Hannah Zachal was a handsome woman, despite her prickly personality.’
      • ‘Rather, she was handsome with long bones, lean muscles, and almost no fat.’
      • ‘She was a handsome woman then of course, the prettiest in Shepherds Bush some said.’
      • ‘The handsome woman was well-liked - her graceful and cheery disposition a welcome addition to the small community of Opunake.’
      • ‘The man jokingly uttered an ‘Eh,’ sitting back as a rather handsome waitress visited our table.’
      • ‘A strikingly handsome woman, she was a pillar of the New York literary establishment, much sought after by men.’
      • ‘The reporters are all Emma Thompson / Kate Winslet clones, handsome women, but not too pretty.’
      • ‘She had handsome, rather than pretty, features and deep brown eyes.’
      • ‘He shows genuine fondness for her as a strikingly handsome woman.’
      • ‘Besides which, dangerous or no, she was a rather handsome woman.’
      • ‘Loren won a beauty contest at the age of 14, and she and Romilda, who was a handsome woman herself, embarked on careers as film extras.’
      • ‘Amelia Grayson had always been a handsome woman.’
      • ‘Jean was a handsome woman with awesome personal charm and great presence.’
      • ‘She was a tall woman, almost regal looking, however under no stretch of the imagination could she be described as pretty, although she was handsome.’
      • ‘For as well as being intelligent, she was a handsome woman!’
      • ‘Belinda is a handsome woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to John Cusack.’
      striking, imposing, prepossessing, elegant, stately, dignified, statuesque, good-looking, nice-looking, attractive, personable
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    2. 1.2 (of a thing) well made, imposing, and of obvious quality.
      ‘handsome cookery books’
      • ‘What I like most about the Armor-Tuff finish is its handsome, subdued appearance and non-reflective qualities.’
      • ‘They said, however, that it was a handsome town and that with continued effort and support from businesses and individuals it had great potential.’
      • ‘The leading falcon was handsome all right, but there is a strange quality about him.’
      • ‘The nearby town centre has a popular street market and handsome buildings.’
      • ‘This colorful and handsome site featuring fine gifts and collectibles is a breeze to navigate through.’
      • ‘The Observer has had to apologise for saying the handsome town of North Shields is in Northumbria.’
      • ‘It is the more disappointing that the handsome, generously illustrated volume that has finally been published shows no evidence of new investigation.’
      • ‘Serious hunters have long sought Zeiss riflescopes for their handsome looks and quality optics.’
      • ‘Underwood is clearly a handsome house in very generous grounds.’
      • ‘Situated on the eastern edge of the New Town, this first-floor property forms part of a handsome Georgian building.’
      • ‘The contents are systematically arranged and liberally illustrated with handsome and informative colour photographs and diagrams.’
      • ‘The government and commercial buildings - excluding the many pubs littering the entire town - were handsome and well maintained.’
      • ‘Built in 1778, this handsome town house is set within screened gardens that overlook Banff and the mouth of the River Deveron.’
      • ‘A bonfire flares beside the handsome, Tudor-style Redstone Inn, the town's big hotel and restaurant.’
      • ‘He lived with his parents, two sisters and one brother in a large, handsome sylvan residence outside the town.’
      • ‘The original capital had been Ciutedella at the western end, a site favoured by the Arabs: the town is still run from the handsome palace alley built for their governor.’
  • 2(of a number, sum of money, or margin) substantial.

    ‘he was elected by a handsome majority’
    • ‘Today, we still own the vast majority of these shares, plus we've received handsome dividends (the income paid by shares) along the way.’
    • ‘One of my best Wiltshire Leaks is obviously behind a letter bearing a handsome cheque for five crisp crunchies, no less.’
    • ‘Winning first prize, it was supposed to bring the first-time author the handsome sum of five hundred dollars.’
    • ‘First of all one has to pay quite a handsome sum of money for its large cage and feed.’
    • ‘Remember, all states but Queensland already charge a handsome sum in petrol taxes.’
    • ‘Under the government guidelines, journalists cough up a handsome sum of money to the government and individual officials.’
    • ‘The handsome sum of E1,000 was raised and a cheque for that amount has gone to the Special Olympics.’
    • ‘Father had to pay a handsome sum, but when it comes to my mother, he spares no expense.’
    • ‘Moreover his brothers got paid a handsome sum not to develop state-owned lands in Arizona.’
    • ‘But his compensation as a discard was substantial - a handsome pension and a barony in 1761, when even his minor post was needed for someone else.’
    • ‘Mind you, it is a pity that other Scottish pundits are not as forthright as Walker was last week, many evidently willing to accept handsome pay packets for doing little more than stating the obvious.’
    • ‘The handsome tributes paid to her at last week's annual Town Council meeting were no less than she deserved.’
    • ‘Officers and councillors are not our masters but servants of the populace, the council tax payers make their handsome salaries, pension conditions and allowances possible.’
    • ‘I paid a handsome sum of twenty dollars for home plate box seats.’
    • ‘Certain politicians and federal judges were actually paid handsome sums in order to coronate Hayes and to overturn the election.’
    • ‘Tourists who flock to the city pay guides handsome sums to walk in places where he never trod, and drink in pubs where he only slaked his thirst on paper.’
    • ‘This service would cost Prakong a handsome sum of 40,000 baht.’
    • ‘That both sides have offered their respective industries handsome sums in state funding cannot be disputed.’
    • ‘Congratulations to those involved with the venture as a very handsome sum of money was raised and overall it was a great night, enjoyed by all present.’
    • ‘They'll tell us so much, and no more, and demand handsome sums because they know publishers are desperate to get their names into print and shift some trees.’
    substantial, considerable, sizeable, large, big, ample, abundant, bumper, plentiful
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  • handsome is as handsome does

    • proverb Character and behaviour are more important than appearance.

      • ‘He didn't look overly impressive when beating Straw Bear at Sandown last month but handsome is as handsome does and Philip Hobbs’ grey still got the job done.’
      • ‘"Handsome is as handsome does, sweetheart," she pleaded, interceding for the orphan with arms that were still beautiful.’
      • ‘He's a handsome man, not as handsome perhaps as my real father but handsome is as handsome does and this man is no philanderer, he cherishes Mother.’
      • ‘Blandford resident Sue Joyal and her stallion, WBM's Commodore, prove handsome is as handsome does.’
      • ‘If handsome is as handsome does, in this case handsome does very well indeed.’
      • ‘It’s a very handsome looking camera but, as the saying goes, handsome is as handsome does.’


Middle English: from hand + -some. The original sense was ‘easy to handle or use’, hence ‘suitable’ and ‘apt, clever’ (mid 16th century), giving rise to the current appreciatory senses (late 16th century).