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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?

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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.

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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. – curious-proofreader Sep 4 '15 at 6:50
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    @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. – sumelic Sep 4 '15 at 10:57
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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
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Lovely

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 Nov 6 '15 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. – silenceislife Nov 6 '15 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 Nov 6 '15 at 9:36

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