I'm currently looking for a word that describes a mysterious, attractive man, preferably tongue-in-cheek. The ones I can think of are dashing, alluring, seductive, tempting, but none of these seem to fit the bill for me and my thesaurus search hasn't been very fruitful.

It needs to be the adjective in this sentence:

The stubble was too short to pass as a beard, but too long to sell as the adjective maverick's hallmark.

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    I don’t see where the mysteriousness comes into play. You’ve so far just described a good-looking man. Why is he mysterious, or rather, why is the fact that he’s good-looking mysterious? And where in your sample sentence is the word you’re looking for supposed to go? I find the question very unclear without this information – I wouldn’t know where to begin in answering it. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 12 '19 at 16:25
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    Hopefully the edit has addressed the understandability part. However, we need to know what you found in your thesarus search and why you rejected the words; as well as why the words you have listed here were rejected. Have a look at our help on single-word-requests. – Andrew Leach Jul 12 '19 at 16:35
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    Is the good-looking man mysterious (like Bruce Wayne, a hunky dude with a secret), or the fact that he's good-looking itself a mystery (like Benedict Cumberbatch, who people seem to agree is weird looking but attractive)? I don't really understand the except sentence, either - I don't get how someone's facial hair could be too long to be a defining feature of their image. – Nuclear Hoagie Jul 12 '19 at 16:44
  • You have to explain why you've rejected those synonyms. What is it about them you don't like, and what is it that you do like that they don't have? Without any further explanation, since we aren't mind readers, we have no idea what would fit the bill. – Jason Bassford Jul 12 '19 at 17:51

Something simple like "charming" or "charmer" would work. Failing that you could use lounge-lizard, louche, Casanova, lothario, Romeo, heartbreaker, playboy, lady-killer, rake, stud, ladie's man, libertine, Don Juan, Adonis...

Have a browse through a thesaurus and there's probably loads more.


Maverick is already doing the heavy lifting for you.

"Straight", I'd go with an adjective that flows nicely like:

"the rugged maverick's hallmark"

Tongue-in-cheek, I would go with something that says he's the opposite of rugged: something that implies pretentious or artificial:

matinee idol
fancy man
dude ranch
Marlboro Man
movie cowboy
Don Johnson
Miami Vice
Beverly Hills
romance novel
dime store (I suppose now it would be a dollar store, but that's not the idiom)

  • Thanks, rugged fits perfectly. Should have thought of that sooner. :) – Nicolas Samuel Jul 15 '19 at 16:21

What about tall, dark and handome? While it is a phrase, rather than a single word, you could hyphenate it for your purposes:

The stubble was too short to pass as a beard, but too long to sell as the tall-dark-and-handsome maverick's hallmark.

I think using this construction would help with the tongue-in-cheek sense. First, the phrase (as noted by tvtropes) has been overused so much it's more often than not used in subversions and deconstructions. Also, using a hyphenated phrase like this gives your sentence a bit of silliness, which might be what you're looking for.

Regarding the "air of mystery", the phrase does connote a sense of being "aloof, cold...[with a] distant personality" (also from tvtropes).




Mysterious. Defying description.

1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise

Serene, smiling, enigmatic, she faced him with no fear whatever showing in her dark eyes. The clear light of the bright autumn morning had no terrors for youth and health like hers.

J. D. Reed, People, 15 Mar. 1999

Despite all that has been written—and surmised—about him, Bill Gates remains the enigmatic ringmaster of the digital circus.

and the usual quote:

the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile


One in common use, both in straight and gay conversation, is "hunk" -- as an adjective, "hunky" is common.

  • Thanks for your answer! Doesn't "hunky" imply a certain physique, though? – Nicolas Samuel Jul 12 '19 at 13:40
  • It can, but it need not. A "hunk" is usually someone the speaker finds attractive, which obviously varies from speaker to speaker. – Zeiss Ikon Jul 12 '19 at 13:42

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