adjective hand·some \ˈhan(t)-səm\

Definition of handsome




  1. 1 chiefly dialectal :  appropriate, suitable

  2. 2 :  moderately large :  sizable a painting that commanded a handsome price

  3. 3 :  marked by skill or cleverness :  adroit

  4. 4 :  marked by graciousness or generosity :  liberal handsome contributions to charity

  5. 5 :  having a pleasing and usually impressive or dignified appearance





Examples of handsome in a sentence

  1. He was a handsome man, in a big-screen way, with the deep-set eyes and boyish smile and even the lumpy, interesting complexion of a Harrison Ford or a Robert Redford. —Adam Gopnik, New Yorker, 10 May 2004

  2. An Alexandrian statue of a ruggedly handsome man with gaunt features like Caesar's exploits the translucent glow of large-grained marble from the distant Greek island of Thasos, combining Roman attention to the texture of aging skin with the abstract elegance of Egyptian-style almond eyes and chiseled cheekbones. —Ingrid D. Rowland, New Republic, 1 & 8 Apr. 2002

  3. The Galaxy's first stop, St. Lucia's capital city of Castries, has been destroyed by so many fires that travel writers dismiss it as holding little interest. There I came upon a handsome three-story brick building that had clearly withstood the city's century of conflagrations. It was, of all things, a Carnegie Library, built by that American millionaire's beneficence in 1916. —Carla Davidson, American Heritage, November 1999

  4. With bonds and utility stocks under seige, many people who depend on these traditional income investments are taking a new look at real estate investment trusts. What they're finding is that “REITs” generate handsome dividend yields of 6% or more while offering the possibility of capital gains. That's not bad at a time when 10-year Treasury notes, which currently yield about 7%, come with the worry that rising interest rates will cause their value to plummet. —Lynn Asinof, Wall Street Journal, 3 June 1994

  5. It was a handsome house situated on a large lot.

  6. The book includes many handsome illustrations.

  7. I predict that someone tall, dark, and handsome is going to come into your life.

  8. He inherited a handsome fortune.

  9. He made a handsome profit on the sale of the house.

  10. The book is a handsome tribute to a great poet.

Origin and Etymology of handsome

Middle English handsom easy to manipulate

First Known Use: 1530

Synonym Discussion of handsome

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

HANDSOME Defined for English Language Learners


adjective hand·some \ˈhan(t)-səm\

Definition of handsome for English Language Learners

  • : pleasing to look at; especially of a person : having a pleasing appearance that causes romantic or sexual feelings in someone

  • : large in size or amount

  • : done or achieved in an impressive way

HANDSOME Defined for Kids


adjective hand·some \ˈhan-səm\

Definition of handsome for Students




  1. 1 :  having a pleasing and impressive appearance a handsome dog

  2. 2 :  considerable They made a handsome profit on the sale.

  3. 3 :  more than enough We left a handsome tip.



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up handsome? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


feeling or affected by lethargy

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