adjective hand·some \ ˈhan(t)-səm \
|Updated on: 17 Aug 2018

Definition of handsome

handsomer; handsomest
1 chiefly dialectal : appropriate, suitable
2 : moderately large : sizable
  • a painting that commanded a handsome price
3 : marked by skill or cleverness : adroit
4 : marked by graciousness or generosity : liberal
  • handsome contributions to charity
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 GopnikNew Yorker10 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. RowlandNew Republic1 & 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 DavidsonAmerican HeritageNovember 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 AsinofWall Street Journal3 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.

Recent Examples of handsome from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of handsome

Middle English handsom easy to manipulate

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


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

handsomer; handsomest
1 : having a pleasing and impressive appearance
  • a handsome dog
2 : considerable
  • They made a handsome profit on the sale.
3 : more than enough
  • We left a handsome tip.



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excessive admiration or flattery

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