Webster 1913 Edition
-some. It at first meant, dexterous; cf. D.
handzaamdexterous, ready, limber, manageable, and E.
Dexterous; skillful; handy; ready; convenient; – applied to things as persons.
That they [engines of war] be both easy to be carried and
handsometo be moved and turned about.
For a thief it is so
handsomeas it may seem it was first invented for him.
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;
handsomeman or woman; a
handsomegarment, house, tree, horse.
Suitable or fit in action; marked with propriety and ease; graceful; becoming; appropriate;
handsomeaddress in writing.
Evincing a becoming generosity or nobleness of character; liberal; generous.
Ample; moderately large.
He . . . accumulated a handsome sum of money.
Pretty applies to things comparatively small, which please by their delicacy and grace; as, a pretty girl, a pretty flower, a pretty cottage. Handsome rises higher, and is applied to objects on a larger scale. We admire what is handsome, we are pleased with what is pretty. The word is connected with hand, and has thus acquired the idea of training, cultivation, symmetry, and proportion, which enters so largely into our conception of handsome. Thus Drayton makes mention of handsome players, meaning those who are well trained; and hence we speak of a man’s having a handsome address, which is the result of culture; of a handsome horse or dog, which implies well proportioned limbs; of a handsome face, to which, among other qualities, the idea of proportion and a graceful contour are essential; of a handsome tree, and a handsome house or villa. So, from this idea of proportion or suitableness, we have, with a different application, the expressions, a handsome fortune, a handsome offer.
To render handsome.
Webster 1828 Edition
1.Properly, dexterous; ready; convenient.
For a thief it is so handsome, as it may seem it was first invented for him.
This sense is either from the original meaning of hand, or from the use of the hand, or rather of the right hand. In this sense the word is still used. We say of a well fought combat and victory, it is a handsome affair, an affair well performed, done with dexterity or skill. [See Handy.]
2.Moderately beautiful, as the person or other thing; well made; having symmetry of parts; well formed. It expresses less than beautiful or elegant; as a handsome woman or man; she has a handsome person or face. So we say, a handsome house; a handsome type.
3.Graceful in manner; marked with propriety and ease; as a handsome address.
4.Ample; large; as handsome fortune.
5.Neat; correct; moderately elegant; as a handsome style or composition.
6.Liberal; generous; as a handsome present.
The applications of this word in popular language are various and somewhat indefinite. In general, when applied to things, it imports that the form is agreeable to the eye, or to just taste; and when applied to manner, it conveys the idea of suitableness or propriety with grace.