Difference Between Beautiful and Handsome

Adjectives play a crucial role in any language as they help in the formation of the entire picture in the mind of the readers. There are various adjectives in the English language that seems similar and confusing. Two such popular adjectives are beautiful and handsome. Both the adjectives have distinct differences in them.

Beautiful vs Handsome

The main difference between beautiful and handsome is that beautiful is mostly associated with the feminine gender. On the other hand, handsome is mostly associated with the masculine gender. The origin of the word beautiful is from the Middle English word “bewteful” while the origin of the word handsome is from the Middle English word “handsum”.

Beautiful and Handsome

The pronunciation of the word beautiful is as byoo-tuh-ful. The term extensively focuses on attractiveness which may or may not be visual. The attractiveness or beauty can be an innate criterion and is not restricted to the outward display of the context during using the word.

While the pronunciation of the word handsome is as han-sm. The term extensively focuses on attractiveness which is solely visually. The attractiveness referred to by handsome is not an innate criterion and mainly focuses on the outward display or exhibition of the context.

Comparison Table Between Beautiful and Handsome

Parameters of Comparison BeautifulHandsome
Usage in English Beautiful is used as an adjective and noun in English language Handsome is used as an adjective, noun, and verb in the English language
In terms of appearance Beautiful signifies possession of beauty and attractiveness Handsome signifies good looking and pleasing in appearance
In terms of weather For weather, beautiful means pleasant and highly enjoyable weather For weather, handsome means clear and bright weather
Comparative and superlative degree The comparative of beautiful is more beautiful and the superlative is most beautiful The comparatives of handsome are handsomer or more handsome and the superlatives are handsomest or most handsome
Derived terms Beautifulness, beautiful armadillo, beautifully Do the handsome thing

What is Beautiful?

Beautiful is a popular adjective in the English language. It is extensively used to refer to human appearance. The term is also used as a noun or to address someone who possesses beauty. Usually, the appearance of women is commonly associated with the term beautiful. The adjective has the competitive degree of beautiful as more beautiful and the superlative degree as most beautiful.

The hyphenation of the word is beau-ti-ful. The meaning of beautiful is often associated with possession of beauty and attractiveness. Example sentences are – She was looking absolutely beautiful in that dress, There is a beautiful beach beside my university, and The last book that I read was beautiful as well as heart-wrenching.

The origin of the word beautiful is from Middle English terms called bewteful and beautefull. These terms signify attractiveness to the eye. The Old English term fæger is also mostly displaced. Beautiful also signifies a good and admirable thing or person. Well-executed events or programs can also be denominated with the term beautiful. Example – The actor performed a beautiful stunt. The word is also used to describe weather conditions.

Initially, terms like beautifuller and beautifuler were used as comparatives, and the terms beautifullest and beautifulest were superlatives. However, these terms have now become obsolete and non-standard. Synonyms of beautiful are attractive, pretty, gorgeous, pleasant, excellent, wonderful, great and others depending upon the context of usage.

What is Handsome?

Handsome is a popular adjective in the English language. The most extensive use of the term is for appearance. The origin of the word has been from middle English terms like handsum and hondsom. Similar relation with words is also seen in Dutch with “handzaam” and German with “handsaam”. The original sense of the term was to describe something easy to use or handle.

In the mid 16th century words like ‘apt’, ‘suitable’, or ‘clever’ gave rise to the appreciatory senses. The hyphenation of the word is as hand-some. Handsome is also a homophone of the hansom. Handsome is also used to express weather conditions like a bright and clear day. Anything which is appropriate or suitable for the current situation and can be marked with ease and propriety can also be described by the word handsome.

As an adjective handsome expresses a pleasing appearance, attractiveness, and good looking. Example sentences are – He was the most handsome man I had ever seen, He looked handsome in his uniform, and, Bearded look makes him more handsome. The word is also used to express the nobleness or generosity in a character. The original senses like clever, skillful, and capable have been a part of deriving the word.

Handsome is also used to denote a quantity of something which is usually large. Synonyms in such context are substantial or hefty. Example sentence- In the new job she is getting a handsome salary. The usage of the term as a verb is in the form of a transitive verb. The 3rd person singular simple present form of the word as a verb would be handsomes while the present participle would be handsoming.

Main Differences Between Beautiful and Handsome

  1. Beautiful is not gender-specific but mostly used for feminine gender while handsome is mainly used for masculine gender.
  2. Beautiful is not used as a verb while handsome can also be used as a verb.
  3. Beautiful does not signify dextrous or skillful while handsome signifies dextrous unskilful.
  4. Beautiful cannot be used to express the quantity of something while handsome can be used to imply a large or ample quantity of something.
  5. Beautiful cannot be used in terms of character while handsome can be used to express the generosity or nobleness of a character.


Adjectives provide specifications and descriptions about the subject of the information. They essentially guide in understanding the entire expression and also improve the quality. Beautiful and handsome are two such adjectives that are used extensively in description and communication.

However, there are various misconceptions related to both words as people often associate the words with a particular gender. The words can be used extensively for any gender and the points of distinction between both the words should be evaluated before usage.


  1. https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:1017196
  2. http://en.sciphilology.ru/d/philology_no_6_6_november.pdf#page=77
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