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.
  3. exhibiting skill, taste, and refinement; well-made: a handsome story; handsome furniture.
  4. considerable, ample, or liberal in amount: a handsome fortune.
  5. gracious; generous; flattering: a handsome compliment; a handsome recommendation.
  6. 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. 2018

Examples from the Web for handsomer

Historical Examples of handsomer

  • And I wonder if his palace was handsomer than the Khedive's?

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • It makes you handsomer than ever; and who so handsome as you at any time, my pretty one!'

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

  • One evening, Laurent found her looking younger and handsomer.

    Therese Raquin

    Emile Zola

  • There's not a handsomer girl in Ireland; and as to skin, she 's not as brown as her father.


    Charles James Lever

  • He grew up to be a fine man; some thought him handsomer than my father.

British Dictionary definitions for handsomer


  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
  3. well-proportioned, stately, or comelya handsome room
  4. liberal or amplea handsome allowance
  5. gracious or generousa handsome action
  6. Southwest English pleasanthandsome weather
  1. 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 handsomer



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