All these words can be used to describe people who we think look good and attractive. The main difference is between how formal they are and whether they describe a man or a woman.
You can use handsome and pretty when wanting to compliment people on their good looks:
- Janet’s son has grown to be a very handsome young man.
- Your daughters are the prettiest girls I have ever met.
Handsome is used to describe boys/men, while pretty is used to describe girls/women.
Beautiful may describe both men and women, and is a greater compliment than pretty/handsome. When we say someone is beautiful, we think they look exceptionally good.
- Jude Law is one of the most beautiful men on Earth.
- Have you seen the bride? She’s simply beautiful in that dress.
Sexy and hot are synonyms and are used to describe people we find sexually attractive. Because of their meaning, these words are only used in informal situations and can also be considered rude.
- I don’t like being called sexy. I much prefer when people compliment me on my accomplishments.
- The new Arts teacher is so hot, all the girls are taking up his class.
Cute is a word that is generally used by teenagers/young people to describe someone they think is pretty/handsome. It’s not an offensive word, but it is very informal.
- Do you know Chloé? I think she’s really cute, I hope she’ll come to the party.
- All my friends say my brother is so cute. It’s very embarrassing.
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