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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for homeliest
Historical Examples
  • He had the reddest hair Val had ever seen—and the homeliest face—but his small-boy grin was friendliness itself.

    Ralestone Luck Andre Norton
  • They did not disdain the homeliest means, if it served the purpose.

  • But the smallest and homeliest one of the brood became the best-loved man in London.

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

    Sundry Accounts Irvin S. Cobb
  • Apparently art-loving John of France was in person the homeliest of men.

    How France Built Her Cathedrals Elizabeth Boyle O'Reilly
  • My dear, I protest, I think it was the homeliest of the whole.

    The Contrast Royall Tyler
  • But the greenest, homeliest, unlikeliest, babiest babes I ever encountered were these two in the hole.

    Wild Life Near Home Dallas Lore Sharp
  • For example, the notion that the homeliest girl in the party is the safest.

    A Book of Burlesques H. L. Mencken
  • I should not omit telling you that the Vernons, especially the eldest, were not the homeliest part of the show.

    A Letter Book George Saintsbury
  • I used to think Airedales was about the homeliest dogs on the list.

    Torchy As A Pa Sewell Ford
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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