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[hohm-lee] /ˈhoʊm li/
adjective, homelier, homeliest.
lacking in physical attractiveness; not beautiful; unattractive:
a homely child.
not having elegance, refinement, or cultivation.
proper or suited to the home or to ordinary domestic life; plain; unpretentious:
homely food.
commonly seen or known.
Origin of homely
First recorded in 1300-50, homely is from the Middle English word homly. See home, -ly
Related forms
homeliness, noun
overhomeliness, noun
overhomely, adjective
unhomeliness, noun
unhomely, adjective
Can be confused
homely, homey.
homely, homily.
Synonym Study
1–3. Simple, homely (homey), homelike, plain imply absence of adornment or embellishment. Something that is simple is not elaborate or complex: a simple kind of dress. In the United States, homely usually suggests absence of natural beauty: an unattractive person almost homely enough to be called ugly. In England, the word suggests a wholesome simplicity without artificial refinement or elegance; since it characterizes that which is comfortable and attractive, it is equivalent to homey: a homely cottage. Homelike also emphasizes comfort and attractiveness, but it conveys less strongly than does homey a sense of intimate security: a homelike interior, arrangement, atmosphere. Something that is plain has little or no adornment: expensive but plain clothing. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for homeliest
Historical Examples
  • My dear, I protest, I think it was the homeliest of the whole.

    The Contrast Royall Tyler
  • Has it any connexion with a word of our homeliest vernacular?

    English Past and Present Richard Chevenix Trench
  • For example, the notion that the homeliest girl in the party is the safest.

    A Book of Burlesques

    H. L. Mencken
  • I used to think Airedales was about the homeliest dogs on the list.

    Torchy As A Pa Sewell Ford
  • They did not disdain the homeliest means, if it served the purpose.

  • Off the bench our judge was the homeliest and simplest of men.

    Sundry Accounts

    Irvin S. Cobb
  • He remembered the girl because she was the oldest and homeliest in the office.

    The Grain Of Dust David Graham Phillips
  • Well, we struck one man who was the homeliest specimen of humanity I've ever seen.

    What's your hurry? George Niblo
  • God will accept even our homeliest work, when honestly done.

    Fifty Notable Years John G. Adams
  • The said work was of the homeliest nature, being, in fact, the making of bread.

    Forging the Blades Bertram Mitford
British Dictionary definitions for homeliest


adjective -lier, -liest
characteristic of or suited to the ordinary home; unpretentious
(of a person)
  1. (Brit) warm and domesticated in manner or appearance
  2. (mainly US & Canadian) plain or ugly
Derived Forms
homeliness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for homeliest



late 14c., "of or belonging to home or household, domestic," from Middle English hom "home" (see home (n.)) + -ly (2). Sense of "plain, unadorned, simple" is late 14c., and extension to "having a plain appearance, ugly, crude" took place c.1400, but now survives chiefly in U.S., especially in New England, where it was the usual term for "physically unattractive;" ugly being typically "ill-tempered."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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