hand·​some ˈhan(t)-səm How to pronounce handsome (audio)
handsomer; handsomest
: having a pleasing and usually impressive or dignified appearance
: moderately large : sizable
a painting that commanded a handsome price
: marked by skill or cleverness : adroit
: marked by graciousness or generosity : liberal
handsome contributions to charity
chiefly dialectal : appropriate, suitable
handsomely adverb
handsomeness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of handsome in a Sentence

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
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
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
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
It was a handsome house situated on a large lot. The book includes many handsome illustrations. I predict that someone tall, dark, and handsome is going to come into your life. He inherited a handsome fortune. He made a handsome profit on the sale of the house. The book is a handsome tribute to a great poet.
Recent Examples on the Web This handsome all-weather teak cabinet with a white acrylic shell looks sleek and modern in any backyard. Sean Evans, Robb Report, 9 Apr. 2024 Some fans gushed over how handsome the rapper is while others questioned why the singer has a pattern of dating younger men. Elizabeth Ayoola, Essence, 9 Apr. 2024 The town’s population — just over 8,500 — nearly doubled as star tourists flocked to Hillsboro with its handsome courthouse and enviable location. Brayden Garcia, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 9 Apr. 2024 Tom is not particularly handsome, clever or well-connected. Alissa Wilkinson, New York Times, 8 Apr. 2024 Long hours in exchange for a handsome salary is a common trade-off made by those in banking. Orianna Rosa Royle, Fortune Europe, 6 Apr. 2024 Except George has been blessed with an uncommonly handsome face, an advantage Mary makes sure to fortify with a formal education in France. Alison Herman, Variety, 5 Apr. 2024 The Kraven the Hunter actor's name is among many criminally handsome thesps allegedly being considered for the role, occupied for the last two decades by Daniel Craig. Lester Fabian Brathwaite, EW.com, 26 Mar. 2024 Her onscreen and real life husband Ryan Piers Williams looked handsome in a classic black tux. 04 of 09 Greta Gerwig Director Greta Gerwig also got the shimmering memo in this gown that emulated an Oscar statue itself. Alexandra Schonfeld, Peoplemag, 11 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'handsome.' 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 handsom easy to manipulate

First Known Use

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 5

Time Traveler
The first known use of handsome was in 1530

Dictionary Entries Near handsome

Cite this Entry

“Handsome.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/handsome. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


hand·​some ˈhan(t)-səm How to pronounce handsome (audio)
: fairly large : sizable
a handsome fortune
: marked by generosity or graciousness
a handsome contribution
: having a pleasing and usually impressive or dignified appearance
a handsome young lad
handsome old buildings
handsomely adverb
handsomeness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on handsome

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