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A woman with the kind of refined beauty and attractiveness that requires poise, dignity, and strength of mind and character, things that often come with age; not merely sex-appeal. Usually applied to a woman who is also very well-groomed and from an upper class background.

This phrase is very dated and rarely used in today's English. Those who don't understand the term could almost be insulted by the word "handsome" being applied to a woman, mistakenly thinking you're saying she is masculine.
"Though she had lost long ago her virginal loveliness, she had ripened into a handsome and fruitful looking woman." - Ellen Glasgow

"What a handsome woman she has become; she carries herself so well".
by orangesapples April 03, 2008
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A female that has facial characteristics similar to that of a man, yet retains enough femininity to be sexually enticing to a male. May be either slightly attractive or slightly unattractive, but not to be mistaken with ugly.
Glenn Close, Condoleeza Rice, Pink, Cher and William Baldwin

Todd: "Ru Paul looks a lot like my brother in law, but I'd still fuck the shit out of her; she's a handsome woman."
Matt: "Ru Paul is actually a man."
Todd: "What? No, I'd still fuck her."
by daddyisaninja November 21, 2007
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An unattractive female. Mainly prevalent during the time period between the invention of the camera and mass production of make-up/plastic surgery. The definition does not take into account the female's body, focusing solely on the face.

Handsome women can still be found in countries partaking in arranged marriages, thus perpetuating the handsome woman's genetic code. Also England.

Examples of handsome women (plural): Janet Reno, Bea Arthur, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ziggy Stardust, and Mia Farrow in "The Great Gatsby"
Dude, are we witnessing a gay marriage?
Nope, she's just a really handsome woman.
Oh man, no kidding.
by PapaReno November 21, 2007
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