adjective come·ly \ ˈkəm-lē also ˈkōm- or ˈkäm- \
|Updated on: 19 Jul 2018

Definition of comely

comelier; comeliest
1 : pleasurably conforming to notions of good appearance, suitability, or proportion
  • Going in with him, they observed that all was neat and comely
  • —Willa Cather
2 : having a pleasing appearance : not homely or plain
  • a comely young woman



comely was our Word of the Day on 06/21/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of comely in a Sentence

  1. a brood of comely children that any parent would be proud to claim

Recent Examples of comely from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'comely.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 an Old English word meaning "lovely, glorious, or fine." If you're 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.

Origin and Etymology of comely

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

COMELY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of comely for English Language Learners

  • : pleasing in appearance : pretty or attractive

COMELY Defined for Kids


adjective come·ly \ ˈkəm-lē \

Definition of comely for Students

comelier; comeliest
: physically attractive

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to beat or defeat soundly

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