Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for January 5, 2021 is:

comely • KUM-lee  • adjective

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

2 : having a pleasing appearance : not homely or plain


“No one looks particularly handsome or comely wearing a face mask.” — Robin Givhan, The Washington Post, 26 May 2020

“The burning bush is aflame. These low shrubs wait until most of their bigger cousins, the oaks and maples, give up their leaves before offering their own subtle but comely color as a last hurrah of autumn.” — The Wilton (Connecticut) Bulletin, 12 Nov. 2020

Did you know?

Although comely is now typically used to describe the appearance of human beings, it was once used more broadly of other appealing things, such as fine clothing. Comely can be traced back to Old English words variously meaning “glorious,” “lively,” or “fine.” If you are looking to pretty up your prose or poetry with additional words meaning “beautiful,” English is well-supplied with them. Aside from beautiful itself, we have lovely, handsome, pretty, fair, good-looking, gorgeous, ravishing, and even well-favored.

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