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 adjectives have distinct differences in them.
- Beautiful describes a visually appealing, aesthetically pleasing appearance, while handsome is an attractive, well-proportioned appearance associated with men.
- Beautiful can apply to people, places, and objects, whereas handsome primarily describes people, particularly men.
- Both terms can have subjective interpretations, as individual preferences and cultural factors influence perceptions of beauty and attractiveness.
Beautiful vs Handsome
“Beautiful” refers to the attractiveness of a person’s overall appearance, encompassing both inner and outer qualities. “Handsome” refers to the attractiveness of a man’s appearance, implying masculine good looks and may include features like chiselled jawlines and a well-groomed appearance.
The pronunciation of the word beautiful is as byoo-tuh-ful. The term extensively focuses on attractiveness which may or may not be visual.
Attractiveness or beauty can be an innate criterion and is not restricted to the outward display of the context while using the word.
While the pronunciation of the word handsome is as han-sm, the term extensively focuses on attractiveness which is solely visual.
The attractiveness referred to as handsome is not an innate criterion and mainly focuses on the outward display or exhibition of the context.
|Parameters of Comparison
|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
|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 associated with the possession of beauty and attractiveness.
Example sentences are – She looked absolutely beautiful in that dress, There is a beautiful beach beside my university, and The last book that I read was beautiful and heart-wrenching.
The word beautiful originates 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 handsome and handsome.
Similar relation with words is also seen in Dutch with “handzaam” and in German with “handsaam”. The term’s original sense 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 handsome.
Handsome is also a homophone of the hansom. Handsome also 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 a Bearded look makes him more handsome.
The word is also used to express the nobleness or generosity in character. The original senses like clever, skilful, and capable have been a part of deriving the word.
Handsome is also used to denote a quantity of something which is 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 handsomed while the present participle would be handsoming.
Main Differences Between Beautiful and Handsome
- Beautiful is not gender-specific but mostly used for the feminine gender, while handsome is mainly used for the masculine gender.
- Beautiful is not used as a verb, while handsome can also be used as a verb.
- Beautiful does not signify dextrous or skilful, while handsome signifies dextrous unskilful.
- Beautiful cannot be used to express the quantity of something, while handsome can be used to imply a large or ample quantity of something.
- Beautiful cannot be used in terms of character, while handsome can be used to express the generosity or nobleness of a character.
Last Updated : 26 July, 2023
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Emma Smith holds an MA degree in English from Irvine Valley College. She has been a Journalist since 2002, writing articles on the English language, Sports, and Law. Read more about me on her bio page.