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Handsome vs. Pretty: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Handsome typically describes a man's attractive, dignified appearance, while pretty refers to a delicate, beautiful appearance, often used for women or objects.
Handsome vs. Pretty

Key Differences

Handsome is traditionally used to describe men, emphasizing a strong, dignified attractiveness. Pretty, on the other hand, is often used for women and children, denoting a softer, more delicate form of beauty.
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Dec 06, 2023
The term handsome often implies a certain ruggedness or classic, strong features, while pretty suggests a more graceful, refined, and often youthful appearance.
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Handsome can also refer to large amounts or things of impressive size, whereas pretty is often used to describe things that are pleasing to the eye in a delicate or quaint way.
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Cultural norms have traditionally associated handsomeness with masculinity and prettiness with femininity, though these perceptions are evolving with changing social attitudes.
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Both words have evolved in their usage over time, with handsome once used for both genders and pretty sometimes used in a less gender-specific way, especially in older texts.
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Comparison Chart

Gender Association

Predominantly male
Primarily female
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Aesthetic Implication

Rugged, strong features
Graceful, delicate beauty
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Alternate Usage

Large amounts, impressive size
Pleasing in a delicate, quaint way
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Cultural Perception

Masculine attractiveness
Feminine beauty
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Historical Usage

Once more gender-neutral
Sometimes less gender-specific historically
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Handsome and Pretty Definitions

Handsome

Generous Amount
They donated a handsome sum to the charity.
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Pretty

Pleasing Appearance
The garden looked pretty in the spring.
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Handsome

Stately or Elegant
His handsome attire made a strong impression.
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Pretty

Delicate Beauty
She wore a pretty dress with floral patterns.
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Handsome

Attractive Male
He was a handsome man with striking features.
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Pretty

Attractively Neat
The table was set with pretty china.
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Handsome

Dignified Beauty
The building had a handsome, classic design.
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Pretty

Pleasing or attractive in a graceful or delicate way.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Impressive in Size
The handsome tree dominated the landscape.
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Dec 06, 2023

Pretty

Clever; adroit
A pretty maneuver.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Pleasing in form or appearance, especially having strong or distinguished features
A handsome man.
A woman with a handsome face.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Very bad; terrible
In a pretty predicament.
A situation that has reached a pretty pass.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Having stately or attractive proportions or appearance; impressive
A handsome manor.
A sleek, handsome car.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Ostensibly or superficially attractive but lacking substance or conviction
Full of pretty phrases.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Large in amount or measure; generous or considerable
A handsome reward.
Won by a handsome margin.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

(Informal) Considerable in size or extent
A pretty fortune.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Marked by or requiring skill or dexterity
Did some handsome maneuvers on the skating rink.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

To a fair degree; moderately
A pretty good student.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Appropriate or fitting
A handsome location for the new school.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

In a pretty manner; prettily or pleasingly.
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Handsome

Having a pleasing appearance, good-looking, attractive, particularly
That is one handsome tree you've got there.
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Pretty

One that is pretty.
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Handsome

Attractively manly, having a pleasing face and overall effect.
I was tripping over his own feet coming in out of the surf.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Pretties Delicate clothing, especially lingerie.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Statuesque, beautiful in a masculine or otherwise imposing way.
She was either handsome or her uniform created a flattering effect but—being very nearsighted—he couldn't tell from this distance.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

To make pretty
Pretty up the house.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Good, appealing, appropriate.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Pleasant to the sight or other senses; attractive, especially of women or children.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

(of weather) Fine, clear and bright.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Of objects or things: nice-looking, appealing.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Suitable or fit in action; marked with propriety and ease; appropriate.
A handsome style
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Fine-looking; only superficially attractive; initially appealing but having little substance; see petty.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Generous or noble in character.
Handsome is as handsome does.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Cunning; clever, skilful.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Ample; moderately large.
A handsome salary
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Pretty

(dated) Moderately large; considerable.
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Handsome

Dexterous; skillful.
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Pretty

(dated) Excellent, commendable, pleasing; fitting or proper (of actions, thoughts etc.).
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Handsome

To render handsome.
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Pretty

(ironic) Awkward, unpleasant.
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Handsome

Dexterous; skillful; handy; ready; convenient; - applied to things as persons.
That they [engines of war] be both easy to be carried and handsome to be moved and turned about.
For a thief it is so handsome as it may seem it was first invented for him.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Somewhat, fairly, quite; sometimes also (by meiosis) very.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Agreeable to the eye or to correct taste; having a pleasing appearance or expression; attractive; having symmetry and dignity; comely; - expressing more than pretty, and less than beautiful; as, a handsome man or woman; a handsome garment, house, tree, horse.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

(dialect) Prettily, in a pretty manner.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Suitable or fit in action; marked with propriety and ease; graceful; becoming; appropriate; as, a handsome style, etc.
Easiness and handsome address in writing.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

A pretty person; a term of address to a pretty person.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Evincing a becoming generosity or nobleness of character; liberal; generous.
Handsome is as handsome does.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Something that is pretty.
We'll stop at the knife store and look at the sharp pretties.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Ample; moderately large.
He . . . accumulated a handsome sum of money.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

To make pretty; to beautify
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Handsome

To render handsome.
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Pretty

Pleasing by delicacy or grace; attracting, but not striking or impressing; of a pleasing and attractive form a color; having slight or diminutive beauty; neat or elegant without elevation or grandeur; pleasingly, but not grandly, conceived or expressed; as, a pretty face; a pretty flower; a pretty poem.
This is the prettiest lowborn lass that everRan on the greensward.
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Handsome

Pleasing in appearance especially by reason of conformity to ideals of form and proportion;
A fine-looking woman
A good-looking man
Better-looking than her sister
Very pretty but not so extraordinarily handsome
Our southern women are well-favored
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Moderately large; considerable; as, he had saved a pretty fortune.
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Oct 19, 2023

Handsome

Given or giving freely;
Was a big tipper
The bounteous goodness of God
Bountiful compliments
A freehanded host
A handsome allowance
Saturday's child is loving and giving
A liberal backer of the arts
A munificent gift
Her fond and openhanded grandfather
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Affectedly nice; foppish; - used in an ill sense.
The pretty gentleman is the most complaisant in the world.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Mean; despicable; contemptible; - used ironically; as, a pretty trick; a pretty fellow.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Stout; strong and brave; intrepid; valiant.
[He] observed they were pretty men, meaning not handsome.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

In some degree; moderately; considerably; rather; almost; - less emphatic than very; as, I am pretty sure of the fact; pretty cold weather.
Pretty plainly professes himself a sincere Christian.
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Pleasing by delicacy or grace; not imposing;
Pretty girl
Pretty song
Pretty room
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

(used ironically) unexpectedly bad;
A pretty mess
A pretty kettle of fish
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Used as an intensifier (`jolly' is used informally in Britain);
Pretty big
Pretty bad
Jolly decent of him
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Oct 19, 2023

Pretty

Charming or Quaint
That cottage has a pretty, rustic charm.
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Dec 06, 2023

Pretty

Graceful and Refined
Her features were pretty and delicate.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What features make someone handsome?

Strong, well-defined features and a dignified look.
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Dec 06, 2023

What does handsome mean?

Handsome refers to an attractive, dignified appearance, often for men.
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Dec 06, 2023

Can objects be handsome?

Yes, especially if large or impressive.
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What qualities are seen as pretty?

Delicate, graceful, and refined features.
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Can handsome imply elegance?

Yes, especially in terms of style or attire.
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Dec 06, 2023

Is pretty used for men?

Pretty is usually for women, but can sometimes describe men in a delicate sense.
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Dec 06, 2023

Can a woman be called handsome?

Yes, especially if referring to a strong, stately beauty.
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Dec 06, 2023

Can landscapes be pretty?

Absolutely, especially if charming and pleasing.
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Dec 06, 2023

Is pretty always feminine?

Typically, but its use can vary.
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Dec 06, 2023

Is handsome a compliment?

Yes, it's a positive remark about appearance.
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Dec 06, 2023

Are there synonyms for handsome?

Words like attractive, distinguished, or stately.
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What are synonyms for pretty?

Beautiful, charming, or lovely.
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Do people use pretty as a compliment?

Yes, it's often a flattering term.
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Dec 06, 2023

Does pretty suggest youthfulness?

Often, it conveys a youthful charm.
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Dec 06, 2023

Has the use of handsome changed?

Historically, it was more gender-neutral.
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Dec 06, 2023

Can handsome describe a feeling?

Not typically; it's more visual.
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Dec 06, 2023

Was pretty ever gender-neutral?

In older texts, it could be less gender-specific.
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Dec 06, 2023

Can pretty describe a feeling?

Rarely, it's mostly used visually.
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Dec 06, 2023

Is handsome used in literature?

Yes, often to describe characters or settings.
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Dec 06, 2023

How is pretty used in literature?

To describe characters, settings, or objects with delicate beauty.
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