Handsome is as handsome does

Jaya

New Member
India
I want to know the real meaning of this phrase ?? Does it mean that it is not really important to be handsome .......
 
  • timebomb

    Senior Member
    Singapore, English
    I haven't heard of the phrase and I don't know the meaning either. But I used to wonder what Forest Gump meant when he said, "stupid is as stupid does"
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It means something like: actions, behaviour, are more important than how someone looks - don't be misled by appearances - true handsomeness is in the personality not in the looks...... don't judge a book by its cover - all that glitters is not gold......
     

    timebomb

    Senior Member
    Singapore, English
    You're sure about this, Panj? I don't mean to question your expertise with the language but somehow, I get the feeling your answer is incorrect. I don't know which is the correct answer, of course but yours doesn't sound right to me.
     

    Eddie

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I agree completely with Pan's explanation. We both come from different countries, but we basically speak the same language. Ireland and the British Colonies have spoken!
     

    la grive solitaire

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    panjandrum said:
    It means something like: actions, behaviour, are more important than how someone looks - don't be misled by appearances - true handsomeness is in the personality not in the looks...... don't judge a book by its cover - all that glitters is not gold......

    I agree, Panj is right. There was a similar discussion in the French-English forum not long ago. You can read it here.
     

    Sev

    Senior Member
    France, french.
    There was a thread about that in the french-english forum : look here.
    It was "Ugly is as ugly does", quite the opposite, but you may find some interesting replies. Most of them are in english if you don't speak any french.
    Edit : la grive, rapide comme le vent.... :)
     

    timebomb

    Senior Member
    Singapore, English
    Thanks, folks. I read the posts in the link but I still don't understand. If the phrase is a response to an insult, why would anyone respond in such a way when the original comment must have something to do with the listener being handsome? I can understand "stupid is as stupid does" as a response to someone who said you are stupid or have done something stupid but why respond in such a way if the original comment was that you're handsome?

    Beats me :confused:
     

    la grive solitaire

    Senior Member
    United States, English
    Hi timebomb,

    It's not a response to someone saying you're handsome/beautiful, etc. It's a response to an insult, to someone saying that you're not:

    "Stop preening in front of that mirror! You're not all that handsome/beautiful, you know."
    "Handsome is as handsome does."

    Does that help?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Maybe a different example.

    Timesquib spends all her time staring longingly at photographs of the latest rock idol. Said rock idol is known to all of us as a thoroughly disreputable individual.
    Timebomb speaks gently to Timesquib:
    "Why do spend all your time staring longingly at photographs of XXXX?"
    "Aaaaaahhhhh......." sighs Timesquib,"But he's GORgeous. He's SOOOOOO handsome."

    "Hummpphhhh," says Timebomb, "I don't know about that. Handsome is as handsome does."
     

    timebomb

    Senior Member
    Singapore, English
    panjandrum said:
    "Hummpphhhh," says Timebomb, "I don't know about that. Handsome is as handsome does."

    And Timesquib would probably give Timebomb a blank stare that says "You're stupid or what?" :D

    Thanks for trying to explain the meaning of the phrase, Panj. But if I had not read any of the meanings given, my guess would be that "stupid is as stupid does" means "stupid people are expected to do stupid things, just like stupid people everywhere".
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    "Handsome is etc" is a time-worn chestnut that makes sense if you get a good explanation like panj's-- but the lack of same doesn't stop people from saying it with conviction. It almost doesn't matter what it means.

    Now, the "Stupid is..." variation can't mean anything like what's been offered here by way of logical explanation, because Forrest Gump's mother taught him to use the saying in his defense, and meant it to reassure him and give him confidence in the face of taunting.

    We mustn't forget that "Stupid is..." is the catch phrase of a very deadpan comedy, and I think it doesn't "mean" anything at all, at least nothing that holds up to inspection. I sense a statement about cliches in the way "Handsome is..." is kinda mindlessly adapted to another use, and "meaning" be damned. It's a rote catchphrase to the second power, and whatever was denoted by the original expression is rarified by its adaptation.

    Looking for meaning from "Forrest Gump" taglines? How about "you never know what you're gonna get?"
     

    id1brok

    New Member
    English - England
    Charles Dickens introduces the phrase as "an old adage" when referring to Miss Trotwood's former husband as "very handsome". Unfortunately this gentleman seems to have been something of a rogue and, it was whispered, been known to beat his wife and threaten to throw her from a window! It is not surprising that the unjustly treated lady would say with great feeling, "Handsome is that handsome does" for she was not treated very handsomely at all by this handsome man!
     
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