Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Not attractive or good-looking.
  • adjective Lacking elegance or refinement.
  • adjective Of a simple or unpretentious nature; plain.
  • adjective Characteristic of the home or of home life.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Familiarly; plainly; rudely; simply; coarsely.
  • 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English hom.

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

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

    July 22, 2007

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

    May 29, 2009

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

    March 2, 2014