Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Not attractive or good-looking: a homely child.
  • adj. Lacking elegance or refinement: homely furniture.
  • adj. Of a simple or unpretentious nature; plain: homely truths.
  • adj. Characteristic of the home or of home life: homely skills.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Lacking in beauty or elegance, plain in appearance, physically unattractive.
  • adj. Proficient in skills needed to maintain a home (see homemaker).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Belonging to, or having the characteristics of, home; domestic; familiar; intimate.
  • adj. Plain; unpretending; rude in appearance; unpolished
  • adj. Of plain or coarse features; uncomely; ugly; -- usually used of people, especially women; -- contrary to handsome.
  • adv. Plainly; rudely; coarsely.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of or belonging to home or the household; domestic.
  • Familiar; intimate.
  • Of domestic character or quality; hence, simple; plain; rude; coarse; not fine or elegant: as, a homely garment; a homely house; homely fare.
  • Plain; without particular beauty of features, form, or color: as, a homely face.
  • Familiarly; plainly; rudely; simply; coarsely.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. without artificial refinement or elegance
  • adj. having a feeling of home; cozy and comfortable
  • adj. lacking in physical beauty or proportion
  • adj. plain and unpretentious

Etymologies

From Middle English hom. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Buncombe was delighted to encounter a sea-faring friend, and insisted on taking George Jernam down to River View Cottage to eat what he called a homely bit of dinner.

    Run to Earth A Novel

  • In the book, Winifred is plain -- homely, even -- but bright, talented, hard-working, and explicitly a very nice girl.

    mrissa: They'll put it on my tombstone: "The book was better."

  • Yet despite the fact that he was often referred to as homely or even ugly, Maureen was struck by how absolutely beautiful he was.

    The Poet Prince

  • Scott started to confide in a woman he worked with, a woman he describes as homely, someone he could safely talk to without the risk of straying.

    CNN Transcript Feb 10, 2007

  • In earlier days it had certainly been better kept; it now looked like any of the other Yugoslavian spas, which are patronized by the peasants and small shopkeepers, and showed a certain homely untidiness, though nothing worse.

    Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: Part V

  • Hayyim the Glazier is reputed to have been a man of fine countenance, wise in homely counsel, honest in all his dealings.

    The Promised Land

  • You have got to where the word homely preserves its true signification, and is no longer a term of disparagement, but expressive of a cardinal virtue.

    Winter Sunshine

  • She made a humble apology, though in homely words, for the insult he had received in their house.

    Zoe: The History of Two Lives

  • He had all his days been accustomed to a plain homely way of living among poor husbandmen, and never affected either gaieties or dainties, and therefore would not have thrust himself so near the king's court and chapel if the business God had called him to had not called him thither.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume IV (Isaiah to Malachi)

  • On the same page he actually referred to Sophie Raworth, possibly the most beautiful woman on television, as "homely" - clearly the man has no taste!

    Put the Mellorphant Man Out to Pasture

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Comments

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  • In the sense of its 14th century usage - at ease, comfortable

    March 2, 2014

  • may take a turn as humly in literature's provincial dialects

    May 29, 2009

  • I like this word in the sense of unpretentious, but it is easily misunderstood.

    July 22, 2007