I'm looking a singular word that implies the archetype of "tall dark and handsome". The origin of the word would also help-- I've seen a lot of responses, here and on Google, referencing "The Story of Hester Malpas," but that's not what I'm thinking of. I was once told there was a word that meant that, and it was derived from the first use of the character type, and now I'm totally blanking on it the night before an essay on a character that totally embodies that.

  • 1
    What, like a hunk? Can you clarify what type of word you're looking for by adding an example sentence?
    – Laurel
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 2:55
  • 1
    I don't think there is any definitive "first use" of the stereotype. It was a fortune telling cliché long before romantic literature was a thing ("you will meet a tall, dark stranger", etc.). Some of the precursors of today's stereotypical romantic hero might be the Byronic Hero, Austen's Mr. Darcy, and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights... Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 6:39
  • Perhaps you are thinking of Adonis? Don't think this is the archetype for tall, dark and handsome, but there is some conceptual overlap.
    – Yorik
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 14:45

1 Answer 1


The 'Byronic Hero', while not a singular word, is definitely the right kind of area. Examples include:

  • Heathcliff: "A half-civilized ferocity lurked yet in the depressed brows and eyes full of black fire, but it was subdued; and his manner was even dignified: quite divested of roughness, though stern for grace..." (Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, Ch. 10)
  • Satan: "Satan, with vast and haughty strides advanced, Came towering, armed in adamant and gold..." (Paradise Lost, John Milton, Book VI)

If that's not quite right, a one-word phrase that might be helpful for you is "antihero". There's a definition here (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/anti-hero), for starters.

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.