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Good Looking vs. Handsome: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 11, 2024
Good looking refers to generally attractive or pleasing in appearance, not gender-specific. Handsome refers to attractive, typically used to describe men, often connoting a certain dignity or ruggedness.

Key Differences

Good looking is a broad term that applies to anyone, regardless of gender, who is aesthetically pleasing or attractive. Handsome, traditionally, is a term used specifically to describe men, often suggesting a refined, dignified, or strong appearance.
Good looking is often used to describe a pleasing, harmonious facial or physical appearance in either men or women. Handsome tends to imply not just attractiveness but also a certain masculine charm and strength in features.
The term good looking can be used for temporary or changing states of appearance, like being well-dressed or groomed. Handsome often implies a more inherent, enduring quality of appearance, particularly in facial features.
Good looking is a versatile term, used in casual and formal contexts. Handsome, while also versatile, often carries a more formal or classic connotation, especially when used to compliment men.
Both terms denote attractiveness, good looking is more universal and flexible, whereas handsome is more specific, often used to describe an appealing masculine appearance.

Comparison Chart

Gender Usage

Applies to any gender.
Primarily used for men.


General attractiveness.
Masculine charm and strength.

Usage Context

Casual and formal; broad usage.
Often formal; classic compliment for men.

Implied Quality

Can be temporary (dressing, grooming).
Suggests inherent, enduring qualities.


Versatile in describing attractiveness.
More specific to masculine features.

Good Looking and Handsome Definitions

Good Looking

Attractive in appearance.
The actor is known for being good looking.


Having an attractive, well-proportioned appearance.
The building's architecture is quite handsome.

Good Looking

Pleasing to the eye.
She admired the good looking painting.


Substantial in size or amount.
They won a handsome sum of money.

Good Looking

Possessing physical beauty.
The model is undeniably good looking.


Good-looking, especially of a man.
He is often described as handsome.

Good Looking

Aesthetically appealing.
He has a very good looking garden.


Marked by elegance or dignity.
He wore a handsome suit to the event.

Good Looking

Appealing in appearance or style.
That is a really good looking car.


Generous or ample.
She made a handsome donation to the charity.

Good Looking

Of a pleasing or attractive appearance; handsome.


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

Good Looking

Physically attractive of a person.

Good Looking

Handsome; fine-looking; as, a good-looking man.

Good Looking

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


Can good looking refer to objects?

Yes, it's used for people and objects.

What does handsome mean?

Attractive, typically referring to men.

Can women be described as handsome?

Traditionally less common, but possible.

What does good looking mean?

Attractive in appearance, not gender-specific.

Can good looking change over time?

Yes, it can vary with style and age.

Does handsome have a formal tone?

Often, it carries a classic, formal connotation.

Is good looking subjective?

Yes, beauty perceptions vary.

Are handsome and good looking interchangeable?

In some contexts, but not always.

Is handsome only for facial features?

Mostly, but can apply to overall appearance.

Does good looking imply style?

It can, including dressing and grooming.

Is handsome a timeless compliment?

Often considered classic and enduring.

Are animals ever called handsome?

Yes, especially for stately or strong animals.

Is handsome used for objects?

Yes, often for buildings or large amounts.

Does handsome suggest maturity?

Sometimes, it implies a mature charm.

Which term is more universally applicable?

Good looking, due to its broader usage.

Is handsome a subjective term?

Yes, it's subject to individual taste.

Can animals be good looking?

Yes, it's used to describe attractive animals.

Does good looking focus on features or overall appearance?

It can refer to both.

Is handsome used for inanimate objects?

Yes, especially for elegant, substantial objects.

Can inanimate objects be good looking?

Yes, like cars or art.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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