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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English homly, hoomly, hamely ‎(domestic, familiar, plain), from Old English *hāmlīc ‎(of the home, domestic), from Proto-Germanic *haimalīkaz ‎(of or characteristic of home), equivalent to home +‎ -ly. Cognate with Scots hamely ‎(familiar, personal, private), West Frisian heimelik, Dutch heimelijk ‎(secret, secretive, clandestine), German heimlich ‎(secret, secretive, clandestine, undercover), Danish hemmelig ‎(secret), Swedish hemlig ‎(secret, concealed, privy, covert), Faroese heimligur ‎(homelike, homey), Icelandic heimlegur ‎(homely; worldly).



homely ‎(comparative homelier or more homely, superlative homeliest or most homely)

  1. (dated) Lacking in beauty or elegance, plain in appearance, physically unattractive.
    • Robert South
      There is none so homely but loves a looking-glass.
    • 1958, Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, Chapter 15
      You see, she sees herself as a starlet; I see her as a sturdy, healthy but decidedly homely kid.
  2. (archaic) Characteristic of or belonging to home; domestic. [from early 14th c.]
    • 5 January 2014 "Mowgli's Cub" (Jungle Book episode)
      Mowgli: "Oh, don't worry Chota, it may not be homely, but I can warm it up."
  3. (Britain dialectal) On intimate or friendly terms with (someone); familiar; at home (with a person); intimate.
  4. (Britain dialectal, of animals) Domestic; tame.
  5. (Britain dialectal) Personal; private.
  6. (Britain dialectal) Friendly; kind; gracious; cordial.
  7. (archaic) Simple; plain; familiar; unelaborate; unadorned. [from late 14th c.]
    a homely garment; homely fare; homely manners
    • 1731, Alexander Pope, Strephon and Chloe, Lines 211-212
      Now Strephon daily entertains / His Chloe in the homeliest strains.
    • 2001, Sydney I. Landau, Dictionaries: The Art and Craft of Lexicography, Cambridge University Press (ISBN 0-521-78512-X), page 167,
      There is no simple way to define precisely a complex arrangement of parts, however homely the object may appear to be.