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[han-suh m] /ˈhæn səm/
adjective, handsomer, handsomest.
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 forms
handsomeish, adjective
handsomeness, noun
superhandsome, adjective
1. See beautiful. 4. large, generous, munificent.
1. ugly. 4, 5. small, miserly. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for handsome
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You have done the handsome thing by me, and I don't mind telling you all about it.

    Breaking Away Oliver Optic
  • Among them is the curious and handsome pirarara, or parrot-fish.

    The Western World W.H.G. Kingston
  • He is a handsome youth of twenty-eight, very correct in manner.

    Three Plays by Brieux Eugne Brieux
  • She was tall and stout, and must have been handsome in her youth.

    Captain Cook W.H.G. Kingston
  • It's hard to say for which of you she desires most to do the handsome thing.

    The Awkward Age Henry James
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 comely: a handsome room
liberal or ample: a handsome allowance
gracious or generous: a handsome action
(Southwest English) pleasant: handsome weather
(Southwest English) a term of endearment for a beloved person, esp in my handsome
Derived Forms
handsomely, adverb
handsomeness, noun
Word Origin
C15: handsom easily handled; compare Dutch handzaam; see hand, -some1
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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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
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Slang definitions & phrases for handsome


Related Terms

high* wide* and handsome

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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