Beautiful vs handsome

I am sure most of you were thought to say that the woman is beautiful and the man is handsome 🙂 but how many of you wondered why? 🙂 In fact, your teacher was right 🙂 my curiosity made me do some researches on why it is so crucial to say so :). Here are my findings so keep reading…

First of all, I have looked into dictionaries to see what does beautiful mean. As a conclusion to all of them:  if we refer to a person it comes to mean that the person is extremely attractive, very pleasant, and so on. In the U.S. it also means a very kind person. If we refer to a thing, it comes to mean something that is very pleasant to look at :). What about handsome? Handsome describes a man who is physically attractive in a traditional way, male way :). So far it looks exactly like your teacher explained you 🙂

and now my two cents 🙂 …

Handsome, etymologically speaking, is easy on the eyes. It originated from the old English hand and some, meaning “easy to handle,” morphing into “of fair size” by the 1570s and making a quick transition into “good-looking” only a few years later. Until the 20th century, men and women were both described as handsome – good-looking, attractive – with regularity, with little difference in meaning. Rather, little general difference in meaning: As with so many words we use to describe women, as early as 1783 writers were eager to parse out what exactly makes a woman handsome. “By a handsome woman, we understand one that is tall, graceful, and well-shaped, with a regular disposition of features; by a pretty, we mean one that is delicately made, and whole features are so formed as to please; by a beautiful, a union of both,” writes John Trusler in 1783’s The Distinction Between Words Esteemed Synonymous in the English Language. “A beautiful woman is an object of curiosity; a handsome woman, of admiration; and a pretty one, of love.” We also describe men as beautifulhotcute, and good-looking, just as we do with women, but beneath most of these (with the possible exception of cute) lies an assumption of the strength and fine construction that’s already built into the default definition of handsome.

Today, telling a man that he is beautiful may be offensive, so use the word handsome exactly the way your teacher thought you :). However, if you know any woman with the kind of refined beauty and attractiveness that requires poise, dignity, and strength of mind and character, things that often come with age, do not be afraid to tell her that she is a handsome woman. Usually applied to a woman who is also very well-groomed and from an upper class background. This phrase is very dated and rarely used in today’s English. Those who don’t understand the term could almost be insulted by the word “handsome” being applied to a woman, mistakenly thinking you’re saying she is masculine.

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