Does handsome mean ugly nowadays?

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arildno
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Does handsome mean ugly nowadays??

I've always thought "handsome" was pretty much equivalent to "good-looking"
(in a rather rough, rugged, masculine way).

However, I stumbled over some site where "handsome" was used as a euphemism for "ugly".
Is this usage common nowadays?
 

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Lisa!
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Base on my expreience in other sites, we use handsome for people who are physically in shape and it doesn't necessarily mean a handsome person have a beautiful face.And when someone is physically in shape and have beautiful face, we say he's goodlooking.
 
arildno
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Very interesting, Lisa!
The dictionaries I've got say "good-looking, having virile beauty", so if what you're saying is the common meaning, it is a relatively new change in the usage.
 
Lisa!
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Perhaps it's my mistake and there is no change in the usage of this word! :redface:And you've corrected my mistake in a very polite way.
 
arildno
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Lisa! said:
Perhaps it's my mistake and there is no change in the usage of this word! :redface:And you've corrected my mistake in a very polite way.
Actually, I don't think you have made a mistake!
While Penguin and Longman's (British dictionaries) say "handsome" means (for men) "good-looking",
Webster's (American) equates "handsome" with "physically fit" in a pleasing manner.

So, it seems there is a basic distinction between the British_English and American-English usage here..
 
Moonbear
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Handsome is the male equivalent of beautiful. Someone could find a man handsome for different reasons...attractive face, attractive body...and it's definitely a subjective term, so one person might consider someone handsome and another might completely disagree.

I don't know of any usage where it mean the opposite, but that doesn't mean some kids aren't using it differently, just like my generation used "bad" to mean "good."
 
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Moonbear said:
Handsome is the male equivalent of beautiful.
Most people use it this way, but the word is actually not gender specific. In older books you often find women refered to as handsome: "having a pleasing and usu. impressive or dignified appearance. syn see BEAUTIFUL"

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition, 2000
 
arildno
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well, in Penguin's dictionary from 1964, the senses related to physical appearance is:
"good-looking; having beauty and dignity; having virile beauty"
In addition, you've got the senses "generous, ample".

however, I just looked int Oxford's Concise dict. 6 edn. from 1975, where it is listed:
"Of fine form or figure", so it seems to be a few nuances of the words bounding about here..
 
arildno
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In the sense of virile beauty, I would say that Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn is "handsome", whereas some would say that Orlando Bloom as Legolas is "beautiful".
(Mr. Bloom is definitely NOT "handsome", IMO..)
 
honestrosewater
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arildno said:
In the sense of virile beauty, I would say that Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn is "handsome", whereas some would say that Orlando Bloom as Legolas is "beautiful".
(Mr. Bloom is definitely NOT "handsome", IMO..)
Yep, describing Legolas as handsome would strike me as odd, but I would certainly describe Aragorn as handsome. Aragorn is at least more handsome than Legolas. I would contrast handsome with subtle, especially when applied to people.
 
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arildno said:
In the sense of virile beauty, I would say that Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn is "handsome", whereas some would say that Orlando Bloom as Legolas is "beautiful".
(Mr. Bloom is definitely NOT "handsome", IMO..)
Yes, I think in modern usage it generally refers to a masculine beauty as you said before. I rarely hear ladies refer to more effeminate males as handsome. I usually hear gorgeous or beautiful. Ofcourse nowadays around here most people use the terms "cute" "hot" or "sexy". I'm amazed at how strong a reaction you can get from a woman just by using the word beautiful to describe them instead of what others generally use.

---edit---

By the way where did you find it used in thsi alternative fashion and in what context?
 
arildno
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TheStatutoryApe said:
By the way where did you find it used in thsi alternative fashion and in what context?
Oh, it was at this gay guy's homepage I stumbled onto who had made a humorous "Are you my knight?"-quiz.
It was a well-made quiz, but I've forgotten the address
(besides, I would have been extremely surprised if you would be interested in taking that particular quiz..)
 
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Just found this today in a book called Galileo's Daughter:

"I will bring it when I come home for the Carnival holidays, and, as I said before, if you like I will bring her worked velvet and damask, stuff enough to make four or five handsome dresses."

p. [21]
 
Lisa!
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I thought arildno was born in 1971! :confused:


zoobyshoe said:
Most people use it this way, but the word is actually not gender specific. In older books you often find women refered to as handsome:
Yeah, I see that in some books too.
 
honestrosewater
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zoobyshoe said:
Just found this today in a book called Galileo's Daughter:

"I will bring it when I come home for the Carnival holidays, and, as I said before, if you like I will bring her worked velvet and damask, stuff enough to make four or five handsome dresses."

p. [21]
Maybe 'handsome' is referring to quantity here, as in how much material is used in making the dresses. That they say they will bring enough supports this interpretation, I think. You think?
 
arildno
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Lisa! said:
I thought arildno was born in 1971! :confused:
if you are confused by the printing years of my dictionaries, the reason is quite simple:
I haven't bought them, they were my parents', and I took them with me when I moved out, along with a few other old books they had spare..
 
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honestrosewater said:
Maybe 'handsome' is referring to quantity here, as in how much material is used in making the dresses. That they say they will bring enough supports this interpretation, I think. You think?
WHAAAT? Hansome refers to quantity here????!!!!????

You're insane!!!!
 
Lisa!
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arildno said:
if you are confused by the printing years of my dictionaries, the reason is quite simple:
I haven't bought them, they were my parents', and I took them with me when I moved out, along with a few other old books they had spare..
I guessed that must be the reason. But since we know you don't live with your parents, it made me :confused:.
 
honestrosewater
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zoobyshoe said:
WHAAAT? Hansome refers to quantity here????!!!!????

You're insane!!!!
Um, are you being serious? I can't tell! :cry:
Handsome can mean large, generous, ample, etc. (as in size or amount). :confused:

Okay, you're making me paranoid - let me explain. I thought you were giving that as an example of 'handsome' not being gender specific. I'm not arguing about that point, only that this may not be an example of it.
 
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arildno
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honestrosewater said:
Um, are you being serious? I can't tell! :cry:
Handsome can mean large, generous, ample, etc. (as in size or amount). :confused:
Yes, a man can be handsomely equipped, both in regards to his attire and his facial features..
 
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As a guy, I would want to be called handsome. Handsome implies masculinity. If a girl calls you cute or hot, that is good, but it still implies that you are not a man yet and still seen as immature/childish/young adult. Handsome is the best compliment you can give to a man.
 
honestrosewater
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And as a woman, it would feel strange if someone called me handsome, as if they meant that I looked manly or butch.
 
arildno said:
Oh, it was at this gay guy's homepage I stumbled onto who had made a humorous "Are you my knight?"-quiz.
It was a well-made quiz, but I've forgotten the address
(besides, I would have been extremely surprised if you would be interested in taking that particular quiz..)
I've taken a "What Kind Of Girl Are You" quiz before lol.
Do you think it may have just be a sarcastic comment?
"Oh yeah, HE's handsome. pfft"
 
Lisa!
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A self-claimes expert told me:(of course I think he really is :wink: )
"There is no difference btw handsome and goodlooking. But you know you say someone is goodlooking when you're talking abjectively. But you say someone is handsome when youre talking about your own emotion about that person. You say "he's handsome" because you think he's in a way that you like."
 
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to me, handsome is like, old fashioned good looks on a guy. which goes along with what some people say about it being more rugged than say, "cute" or "sexy." because of the whole metrosexual, guys using all sorts of cosmetic products, there's a distinction between trendy guys these days, and good looking guys from more romantic eras. Handsome is more classic looking.

and i also don't mind being called handsome. ya, it means perhaps i'm not very feminine, but its still a compliment. i tend to think of handsome women as like, girls with really pretty faces, who probably are wearing pants and a blouse, and very crisp lines and sharp colors. again, sort of classic looking.
 

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