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Does handsome mean ugly nowadays?

  1. Aug 29, 2005 #1

    arildno

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    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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  3. Aug 29, 2005 #2

    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.
     
  4. Aug 29, 2005 #3

    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.
     
  5. Aug 29, 2005 #4

    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.
     
  6. Aug 29, 2005 #5

    arildno

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    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..
     
  7. Aug 29, 2005 #6

    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."
     
  8. Aug 29, 2005 #7
    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
     
  9. Aug 29, 2005 #8

    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..
     
  10. Aug 29, 2005 #9

    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..)
     
  11. Aug 30, 2005 #10

    honestrosewater

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2005
  12. Aug 30, 2005 #11
    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?
     
  13. Aug 30, 2005 #12

    arildno

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    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..)
     
  14. Aug 30, 2005 #13
    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]
     
  15. Aug 30, 2005 #14

    Lisa!

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    I thought arildno was born in 1971! :confused:


    Yeah, I see that in some books too.
     
  16. Aug 30, 2005 #15

    honestrosewater

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    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?
     
  17. Aug 30, 2005 #16

    arildno

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    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..
     
  18. Aug 30, 2005 #17
    WHAAAT? Hansome refers to quantity here????!!!!????

    You're insane!!!!
     
  19. Aug 30, 2005 #18

    Lisa!

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    I guessed that must be the reason. But since we know you don't live with your parents, it made me :confused:.
     
  20. Aug 30, 2005 #19

    honestrosewater

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2005
  21. Aug 30, 2005 #20

    arildno

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    Yes, a man can be handsomely equipped, both in regards to his attire and his facial features..
     
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