adjective, hand·som·er, hand·som·est.

having an attractive, well-proportioned, and imposing appearance suggestive of health and strength; good-looking: a handsome man; a handsome woman.
having pleasing proportions, relationships, or arrangements, as of shapes, forms, or colors; attractive: a handsome house; a handsome interior.
exhibiting skill, taste, and refinement; well-made: a handsome story; handsome furniture.
considerable, ample, or liberal in amount: a handsome fortune.
gracious; generous; flattering: a handsome compliment; a handsome recommendation.
adroit and appealing; graceful: a handsome speech.

Origin of handsome

1350–1400; Middle English handsom easy to handle (see hand, -some1); cognate with Dutch handzaam tractable
Related formshand·some·ish, adjectivehand·some·ness, nounsu·per·hand·some, adjective

Synonyms for handsome

Synonym study

1. See beautiful.

Antonyms for handsome

1. ugly. 4, 5. small, miserly.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for handsome

Contemporary Examples of handsome

Historical Examples of handsome

  • He was jealous, too, of the toyshop keepers who were selling their handsome wares.

    Mitz and Fritz of Germany

    Madeline Brandeis

  • His brother Olaf was a tall, thin man; handsome in countenance; lively, modest, and popular.


    Snorri Sturlason

  • Attractive, rather than handsome, was the epithet best suited to describe Adeline Mowbray.

    Adeline Mowbray

    Amelia Alderson Opie

  • A handsome man is very dry fuel near a young lady's warm heart—her enthusiasm soon glows into a blaze.

    Miles Tremenhere, Vol 1 of 2

    Annette Marie Maillard

  • He is near her own age, and he is a handsome fellow, full of life and spirit.

    Rodman the Keeper

    Constance Fenimore Woolson

British Dictionary definitions for handsome



(of a man) good-looking, esp in having regular, pleasing, and well-defined features
(of a woman) fine-looking in a dignified way
well-proportioned, stately, or comelya handsome room
liberal or amplea handsome allowance
gracious or generousa handsome action
Southwest English pleasanthandsome weather


Southwest English a term of endearment for a beloved person, esp in my handsome
Derived Formshandsomely, adverbhandsomeness, noun

Word Origin for handsome

C15: handsom easily handled; compare Dutch handzaam; see hand, -some 1
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

Word Origin and History for handsome

c.1400, handsom "easy to handle, ready at hand," from hand (n.) + -some (1). Sense extended to "fair size, considerable" (1570s), then "having fine form, good-looking" (1580s). Meaning "generous" (in handsome reward, etc.) first recorded 1680s.

[Americans] use the word "handsome" much more extensively than we do: saying that Webster made a handsome speech in the Senate: that a lady talks handsomely, (eloquently:) that a book sells handsomely. A gentleman asked me on the Catskill Mountain, whether I thought the sun handsomer there than at New York. [Harriet Martineau, "Society in America," 1837]

Related: Handsomeness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper