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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.]
  3. (UK dialectal) On intimate or friendly terms with (someone); familiar; at home (with a person); intimate.
  4. (UK dialectal, of animals) Domestic; tame.
  5. (UK dialectal) Personal; private.
  6. (UK 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.