Definition of handsome in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhans(ə)m/

adjective (handsomer, handsomest)

1(Of a man) good-looking.
Example sentences
  • He's handsome, with chiselled good looks and hypnotic blue eyes that make Mel Gibson's pale by comparison.
  • In the same way as the handsome David replaced the good-looking Saul, Esther replaced Vashti.
  • He was extraordinarily handsome - better looking than most movie stars.
good-looking, nice-looking, attractive, personable, striking, stunning, fine, well-proportioned, well-formed
informal hunky, dishy, hot, gorgeous, drop-dead gorgeous, tasty, fanciable, knockout
British informal fit
North American informal cute
Australian/New Zealand informal spunky
rare sightly
1.1(Of a woman) striking and imposing rather than conventionally pretty.
Example sentences
  • Besides which, dangerous or no, she was a rather handsome woman.
  • He shows genuine fondness for her as a strikingly handsome woman.
  • The man jokingly uttered an ‘Eh,’ sitting back as a rather handsome waitress visited our table.
striking, imposing, prepossessing, elegant, stately, dignified, statuesque, good-looking, nice-looking, attractive, personable
1.2(Of a thing) well made, imposing, and of obvious quality: handsome cookery books
More example sentences
  • Serious hunters have long sought Zeiss riflescopes for their handsome looks and quality optics.
  • They said, however, that it was a handsome town and that with continued effort and support from businesses and individuals it had great potential.
  • Built in 1778, this handsome town house is set within screened gardens that overlook Banff and the mouth of the River Deveron.
2(Of a number, sum of money, or margin) substantial: he was elected by a handsome majority
More example sentences
  • Congratulations to those involved with the venture as a very handsome sum of money was raised and overall it was a great night, enjoyed by all present.
  • First of all one has to pay quite a handsome sum of money for its large cage and feed.
  • Under the government guidelines, journalists cough up a handsome sum of money to the government and individual officials.
substantial, considerable, sizeable, large, big, ample, abundant, bumper, plentiful;
generous, lavish, liberal, bountiful, princely;
Scottish & Northern English  bonny
informal tidy, whopping, whopping great, thumping, thumping great, kingly, not to be sneezed at
British informal whacking, whacking great, ginormous
literary plenteous, bounteous


handsome is as handsome does

proverb Character and behaviour are more important than appearance.
Example sentences
  • It’s a very handsome looking camera but, as the saying goes, handsome is as handsome does.
  • He didn't look overly impressive when beating Straw Bear at Sandown last month but handsome is as handsome does and Philip Hobbs’ grey still got the job done.
  • Blandford resident Sue Joyal and her stallion, WBM's Commodore, prove handsome is as handsome does.



Example sentences
  • In his physical prime, which seemed to last a long time, the face had a fine-boned handsomeness that sometimes appeared attractively vulnerable, set in the frothing hair that could look like a nimbus with the light behind him.
  • There's the beauty of swallowing, the loveliness, the sharp breath from the bottle's neck and the handsomeness of that first taste, it rings out, shudders the walls.
  • His accent is a weird mixture of Robert De Niro and Jimmy Durante, radiating guignol menace and barbaric handsomeness, especially when called upon to make an exhibition of himself as the grotesque civic celebrity he has become.


Middle English: from hand + -some1. The original sense was 'easy to handle or use', hence 'suitable' and 'apt, clever' (mid 16th century), giving rise to the current appreciatory senses (late 16th century).

  • The original sense, showing that the root word is hand, was ‘easy to handle or use’. In the mid 16th century this developed to ‘suitable’ and ‘apt, clever’. The current senses ‘good-looking’ and ‘striking, of fine quality’ followed soon after. In the proverb handsome is as handsome does the original reference was to chivalrous or genteel behaviour.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: hand|some

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