adjective, home·li·er, home·li·est.
  1. lacking in physical attractiveness; not beautiful; unattractive: a homely child.
  2. not having elegance, refinement, or cultivation.
  3. proper or suited to the home or to ordinary domestic life; plain; unpretentious: homely food.
  4. commonly seen or known.

Origin of homely

First recorded in 1300–50, homely is from the Middle English word homly. See home, -ly
Related formshome·li·ness, nouno·ver·home·li·ness, nouno·ver·home·ly, adjectiveun·home·li·ness, nounun·home·ly, adjective
Can be confusedhomely homeyhomely 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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for homeliest

Historical Examples of homeliest

  • My dear, I protest, I think it was the homeliest of the whole.

    The Contrast

    Royall Tyler

  • Has it any connexion with a word of our homeliest vernacular?

    English Past and Present

    Richard Chevenix Trench

  • For example, the notion that the homeliest girl in the party is the safest.

  • I used to think Airedales was about the homeliest dogs on the list.

    Torchy As A Pa

    Sewell Ford

  • They did not disdain the homeliest means, if it served the purpose.

British Dictionary definitions for homeliest


adjective -lier or -liest
  1. characteristic of or suited to the ordinary home; unpretentious
  2. (of a person)
    1. Britishwarm and domesticated in manner or appearance
    2. mainly US and Canadianplain or ugly
Derived Formshomeliness, 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

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