come·​ly ˈkəm-lē How to pronounce comely (audio)
 also  ˈkōm-,
 or  ˈkäm-
comelier; comeliest
: pleasurably conforming to notions of good appearance, suitability, or proportion
Going in with him, they observed that all was neat and comelyWilla Cather
: having a pleasing appearance : not homely or plain
a comely young woman
comeliness noun

Did you know?

Comely Has a Broad and Beautiful History

Although comely is now typically used to describe the appearance of human beings, it was once used more broadly of other appealing things, such as fine clothing. Comely can be traced back to Old English words variously meaning "glorious," "lively," or "fine." If you are looking to pretty up your prose or poetry with additional words meaning "beautiful," English is well-supplied with them. Aside from beautiful itself, we have lovely, handsome, pretty, fair, good-looking, gorgeous, ravishing, and even well-favored.

Choose the Right Synonym for comely

beautiful, lovely, handsome, pretty, comely, fair mean exciting sensuous or aesthetic pleasure.

beautiful applies to whatever excites the keenest of pleasure to the senses and stirs emotion through the senses.

beautiful mountain scenery

lovely is close to beautiful but applies to a narrower range of emotional excitation in suggesting the graceful, delicate, or exquisite.

a lovely melody

handsome suggests aesthetic pleasure due to proportion, symmetry, or elegance.

a handsome Georgian mansion

pretty often applies to superficial or insubstantial attractiveness.

a painter of conventionally pretty scenes

comely is like handsome in suggesting what is coolly approved rather than emotionally responded to.

the comely grace of a dancer

fair suggests beauty because of purity, flawlessness, or freshness.

fair of face

Examples of comely in a Sentence

a brood of comely children that any parent would be proud to claim
Recent Examples on the Web Here is the story of a comely girl, a mulatto, Margaret Toogood, Maggy. Anna Deavere Smith, The Atlantic, 13 Nov. 2023 Chin picks up a slide in comely tones of gray, brown, and off-white. Karen Wright, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 Instead, his big conversion comes later, after Rafael takes a fist to the face for dancing with a local tough guy’s comely fiancée. Peter Debruge, Variety, 23 Aug. 2023 Connecticut-raised Troy’s debut novel, Floating, imagines a dinky, dusty town in Arizona where its comely protagonist, Ruby, falls in love with her husband’s estranged, cowboy brother. Hazlitt, 4 May 2022 The comely stars, who are excellent at trolling each other online, are already parents to daughters James, 4, and Inez, 2. Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times, 17 Oct. 2019 Furthermore, the plant is topped by comely flowers, which in time proudly adorned the button-holes of no less than Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, in their day intentionally marketing the potato to a then-skeptical proletariat. Bill St. John, The Denver Post, 9 Oct. 2019 Drinks were served downstairs, dinner upstairs, and the comely belly dancers oscillated between the two. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, 4 Feb. 2019 With the help of Margaret Bonelli, Cirese planned to transform Sabella over the winter from a disheveled and foreign woman into a comely American mother. Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Woman's Day, 12 May 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'comely.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English comly, alteration of Old English cȳmlic glorious, from cȳme lively, fine; akin to Old High German kūmig weak

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of comely was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near comely

Cite this Entry

“Comely.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


come·​ly ˈkəm-lē How to pronounce comely (audio)
comelier; comeliest
: pleasing to the eye : pretty, attractive
comeliness noun

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