I believe in English you say:

That boy is handsome.

That girl is beautiful.

I am from Sweden. And in Swedish we have the word "Snygg", which basically has the same meaning as "handsome" and "beautiful", and it can be used for both boys and girls.

Is there anything similar in English? Is there any word in English similar to handsome/beautiful that can be used for both boys and girls?


7 Answers 7


If the boy is still a child, pre-adolescent, he can be described as being beautiful.

He's a beautiful baby/child/boy

sounds perfectly acceptable to my ears. The boy himself might object to being called beautiful once he turns into a teenager, as it is usually considered an effeminate term.

For teenagers and adults, the genderless adjectives good-looking, and attractive are the safest and best-known options. They can be used for young and “mature” people, both men and women.

Good-looking as defined by Oxford Dictionaries (Chiefly of a person) attractive.

Damon looks to be on the fast track towards becoming one of cinema's brightest bad boys. He's a good looking guy who can look brooding with the best of them, bringing to mind James Dean and the young Marlon Brando
Michael Redman

I'm tall, slim, blonde and, so I'm often told, a good-looking woman. I know how lucky I am. But there are downsides to being pretty…
Samantha Brick

attractive (Of a person) appealing to look at; sexually alluring:

  • For I suddenly seem to be encountering a new generation of stunningly attractive women in their fifties.

  • Footballer David Beckham is one of the most sexy and attractive men on the planet.



lovely [luhv-lee]

adjective, lovelier, loveliest.

  1. charmingly or exquisitely beautiful: a lovely flower.

2. having a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind as well as to the eye, as a person or a face.

3. delightful; highly pleasing: to have a lovely time.

4. of a great moral or spiritual beauty: a lovely character.

  • I suspect that "lovely", applied to a male, would hint at homosexuality.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 4:26
  • @HotLicks Yes but the context at which OP provided, the male being a boy and thus young, kind of negates this connotation. Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 5:49
  • "Boy", in English, can span a very broad age range. The usual upper limit of the term would be somewhere from 15 to 25, depending on context. And, of course, "girls" would use the term for the opposite sex up to 35 and beyond.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 9:36

I personally believe that beautiful can describe both genders. As the dictionary defines beautiful as being something or someone that is pleasing to the senses or mind aesthetically. For example "beautiful poetry" “beautiful man” “beautiful woman”


Try comely

COMELY adjective:

1. pleasurably conforming to notions of good appearance, suitability, or proportion

2. having a pleasing appearance: not homely or plain

Origin of COMELY:

Middle English comly, alteration of Old English cȳmlic glorious, from cȳme lively, fine; akin to Old High German kūmig weak

First Known Use: 13th century

(Merriam-Webster online)

  • But likely to be misheard in speech exactly AS "homely." "Jack's quite comely." "Say what? Jack, yeah. He's damn homely, that guy." Unless you hang out with people who talk like characters in Dickens novels. Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 6:50
  • 3
    @curious-proofreader: "Homely" is /hoʊmli/ and "comely" is /kʌmli/ when properly pronounced (the first syllable is the same as the verb "come" and is possibly related to the use of "become" in the sense "sth becomes sb"), so I don't see why they'd be particularly prone to being confused for one another.
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 10:57

These words come closest to the unisex adjective that you are looking for:

  • 'cute' is often used to describe both male and female subjects.
  • 'pretty' is sometimes used for both genders, although it might have a negative connotation (example: school bullies making fun of good looking boys).
  • 'handsome' was often used to describe a middle aged woman, but this is not very common today

Beautiful word is only perfect for a girl and women. And it is not used for a boys but sometimes it's used for (boy)child not for teenagers or adults .There are some other words like handsome, good looking ,dashing etc.are used for men.


Considering the term “beautiful” is actually taken from the French masculine adjective “beau” it shows that the term has clearly been misplaced within the English language. As “beau” describes male aesthetic and “belle “ describes female aesthetic. However disregarding evident western social constructs found in the English language, i feel that “beautiful” is perfect for describing both men and women. (Unisex)


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.