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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English comly, cumly, cumlich, from Old English cymlīċ, cȳmlīċ (compare Old English cȳme (fine, exquisite), from Proto-Germanic *kūmiz (delicate)), from Proto-Germanic *kūmalīkaz (pitiful, dear). Cognate with Middle Dutch komlick, komelick, Middle High German komelīh, gomelīh.


  • IPA(key): /ˈkʌmli/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌmli


comely (comparative comelier or more comely, superlative comeliest or most comely)

  1. (dated, of a person) Pleasing or attractive to the eye.
    a comely woman
    Synonym: pulchritudinous
    Antonym: (of a person) homely
    • 1544 (date written; published 1571), Roger Ascham, Toxophilus, the Schole, or Partitions, of Shooting. [], London: [] Thomas Marshe, →OCLC; republished in The English Works of Roger Ascham, [], London: [] R[obert] and J[ames] Dodsley, [], and J[ohn] Newbery, [], 1761, →OCLC, book 2, page 162:
      In ſhootinge at the prickes, haſtye and quicke drawinge is neyther ſure nor yet comely.
    • 1634 October 9 (first performance), [John Milton], H[enry] Lawes, editor, A Maske Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634: [] [Comus], London: [] [Augustine Matthews] for Hvmphrey Robinson, [], published 1637, →OCLC; reprinted as Comus: [] (Dodd, Mead & Company’s Facsimile Reprints of Rare Books; Literature Series; no. I), New York, N.Y.: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1903, →OCLC:
      Not once perceive their foul disfigurement / But boast themselves more comely than before.
    • 1662 November 19 (Gregorian calendar); first published 1692, Robert South, “A Sermon Preached at the Cathedral-Church of St. Paul’s, November the 9th, 1662 [Julian calendar]”, in Twelve Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, 6th edition, volume I, London: [] J[ames] Bettenham, for Jonah Bowyer, [], published 1727, →OCLC, page 55:
      He that is comely, when old and decrepit, ſurely was very beautiful, when he was young.
    • 1718, Mat[thew] Prior, “Solomon on the Vanity of the World. A Poem in Three Books.”, in Poems on Several Occasions, London: [] Jacob Tonson [], and John Barber [], →OCLC, book II (Pleasure), page 448:
      Then had I come, preventing Sheba's Queen, / To ſee the comelieſt of the Sons of Men; []
    • 1918 September–November, Edgar Rice Burroughs, “The Land That Time Forgot”, in The Blue Book Magazine, Chicago, Ill.: Story-press Corp., →OCLC; republished as chapter IX, in Hugo Gernsback, editor, Amazing Stories, volume 1, New York, N.Y.: Experimenter Publishing, 1927, →OCLC:
      The chief's name was To-jo, and his household consisted of seven females and himself. These women were much more comely, or rather less hideous than those of Tsa's people; one of them, even, was almost pretty, being less hairy and having a rather nice skin, with high coloring.
  2. (archaic) Suitable or becoming; proper; agreeable.

Derived terms[edit]