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

Keep scrolling for more

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 patchwork faux fur is simultaneously handsome, playful, and sophisticated. Mike Richard, Men's Health, 19 Sep. 2022 His father, who owns a Honda dealership there, is tall, handsome, conservative, and emphatically masculine. Calvin Tomkins, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2022 Once their truculent director shows up (played by then matinee-idol handsome Lou Castel, an ironic but convincing stand-in for Fassbinder; the director himself plays the film’s much-put-upon production manager Sascha), nothing continues to happen. Glenn Kenny, BostonGlobe.com, 7 July 2022 His assistant, a model-handsome Utah transplant named Steele, says that prior to his hiring, and Donaldson’s ex-girlfriend redesigning his kitchen, YouTube’s biggest star had lawn chairs in his living room and mattresses on the floor. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 19 Apr. 2022 As precious as the exquisite stone he is named after, Emerald is an extremely handsome 5-year-old buff tabby who enjoys having a special space to call his own. The Arizona Republic, 4 Mar. 2022 While this smooth leather option is handsome, a suede model looks even better. Christian Gollayan, Men's Health, 30 Aug. 2022 The little building — 600 square feet with some waiting rooms and bathroom facilities — was handsome in its day. Carl Nolte, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Aug. 2022 The handsome, delicious freshwater species with the white flesh and tip on its tail is prized by sport, tribal and commercial fishers. Paul A. Smith, Journal Sentinel, 7 July 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 Oct. 2022.

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

Kids Definition



hand·​some ˈhan-səm How to pronounce handsome (audio)
handsomer; handsomest
: having a pleasing and impressive appearance
a handsome dog
: considerable
They made a handsome profit on the sale.
: more than enough
We left a handsome tip.
handsomely adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on handsome

Last Updated: 24 Sep 2022

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.