[ han-suhm ]
See synonyms for: handsomehandsomeness on Thesaurus.com

adjective,hand·som·er, hand·som·est.
  1. having an attractive, well-proportioned, and imposing appearance suggestive of health and strength; good-looking: a handsome man;a handsome woman.

  2. having pleasing proportions, relationships, or arrangements, as of shapes, forms, or colors; attractive: a handsome house;a handsome interior.

  1. considerable, ample, or liberal in amount: a handsome fortune.

  2. gracious; generous; flattering: a handsome compliment;a handsome recommendation.

  3. adroit and appealing; graceful: a handsome speech.

Origin of handsome

First recorded in 1400–50; Middle English hondsom, handsum “easy to control, handy”; cognate with West Frisian hānsum “easy to control, convenient,” Dutch handzaam “easy to manage”; see hand, -some1

word story For handsome

Handsome has not gone through as many changes in meaning as nice has, but it has gone through enough. Handsome has only a few related words outside English. In West Frisian, the language most closely related to English and spoken in the northern Netherlands, hānsum means “easy to manage or control, convenient,” as do Dutch handzaam and German handsam.
In the English of the mid-15th century, when this word was first recorded (as hondsom ), it meant “easy to handle” (obsolete now); by the mid-16th century handsome developed the senses “convenient, handy, suitable” (also obsolete) and “courteous, gracious,” and then “generous, noble, magnanimous.” Here we see the development from a meaning closely related to hands to one that simply implies their existence (behind the generosity).
The sense “(of a person) having an attractive appearance” dates from the late 16th century; the sense of “fairly large, considerable (as of an amount of money)” also dates from the latter half of the 16th century.

Other words for handsome

Opposites for handsome

Other words from handsome

  • hand·some·ish, adjective
  • hand·some·ness, noun
  • su·per·hand·some, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use handsome in a sentence

  • In all my life I had never seen a handsomer man, and I don't suppose anyone else there had either.

    Uncanny Tales | Various
  • The change became him; he seemed a larger and handsomer man for it; he looked the caballero and almost the hidalgo.

    Overland | John William De Forest
  • The boy stood upright, facing the group with dignity, a handsomer youth than is often seen among his people.

    Overland | John William De Forest
  • That may be; but where you find one handsomer face than his, you see a thousand destitute of its intelligence and agreeableness.

    Alone | Marion Harland
  • He was a clean-cut man, five-eleven in his stockings, and few men in all that country had a handsomer body.

    The Way of a Man | Emerson Hough

British Dictionary definitions for handsome


/ (ˈhændsəm) /

  1. (of a man) good-looking, esp in having regular, pleasing, and well-defined features

  2. (of a woman) fine-looking in a dignified way

  1. well-proportioned, stately, or comely: a handsome room

  2. liberal or ample: a handsome allowance

  3. gracious or generous: a handsome action

  4. Southwest English pleasant: handsome weather

  1. Southwest English a term of endearment for a beloved person, esp in my handsome

Origin of handsome

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

Derived forms of handsome

  • handsomely, adverb
  • handsomeness, 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