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

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The Simple Life star wowed in a black cutout gown by Jasmin Erbaş, and Reum looked handsome in a black tux. Emily Weaver, Peoplemag, 25 Jan. 2023 Zach Shallcross is the next tall, handsome leading man to take over the franchise as the Bachelor. Women's Health, 23 Jan. 2023 According to Time, the figure can actually be traced all the way back to 700 B.C., to the Greek god of love named Eros, who was actually a handsome, immortal man with the intimidating power to make people fall in love. Hannah Jeon, Good Housekeeping, 12 Jan. 2023 Efron is looking ruggedly handsome as usual, and rocking a mustache and teal button up shirt. Aimée Lutkin, ELLE, 28 Dec. 2022 In a pleasant Tirana apartment washed in pale morning light, a handsome young man is blearily preparing breakfast. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 15 Dec. 2022 Actor Rami Malek, who is presenting an award this evening, looked handsome in a tux. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 2 Dec. 2022 He’s played by a very handsome actor in Matt Smith. James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 Oct. 2022 All the new Astros look very handsome in their uniforms, but did the team actually bolster its Major League roster as the team barrels towards another October run? James Yasko, Chron, 3 Aug. 2022 See More

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

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 2 Feb. 2023.

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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