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handsome

[ han-suhm ]
/ ˈhæn səm /
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See synonyms for: handsome / handsomeness on Thesaurus.com

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.
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.

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Origin of handsome

First recorded in 1400–50; Middle English hondsom, handsum “easy to control, handy” (see hand, -some1); cognate with West Frisian hānsum “easy to control, convenient,” Dutch handzaam “easy to manage”
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.
hand·some·ish, adjectivehand·some·ness, nounsu·per·hand·some, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for handsome

handsome
/ (ˈhændsəm) /

adjective

noun

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