However, just as in English, there are different words to describe someone who’s beautiful, the same is true in Spanish. For example, when you think of the word handsome, cute, or pretty to describe someone, you will probably envisage different people who may fit in these categories.
Read on to learn more about hermosa, the right context to use it, and other alternatives that might more accurately compliment someone.
Meaning of Hermosa
The meaning of hermosa falls somewhere in between “beautiful” and “gorgeous”. It’s a higher degree of beauty than something you might describe as pretty. Hermosa is the term used when complimenting women. This adjective can be applied to almost anything including things, animals, people, and even abstract ideas, but hermoso/a has a more definitive, full-tongued meaning.
We should also note that hermoso/a, when applied to women, has a seductive flair to it —so you should use it carefully!
Mi amor, te ves hermosa
You look very beautiful, my love
Alternatives to Hermosa
Let’s start with the basics. Lindo/a is the most general of the Spanish words related to beauty and is used the most often. It can be translated as “pretty”. Like “pretty”, it can be used very freely, with a connotation sometimes similar to “nice”. If you think a person is beautiful, you can say lindo/a, but you can also say the same about a landscape, a meal, or a car. You can even say that lindo/a is una linda palabra (“a nice word”)!
Bonito/a is probably the most innocent way of referring to something’s —or someone’s— beauty. We could translate it for the English “cute”, and, like “cute”, bonito/a can be applied to almost anything.
Interesting tidbit: you might see bonito on a menu, but this is not an adjective related to beauty — it’s a kind of fish!
Guapo/a most generally means handsome or good-looking and it’s almost exclusively used to describe a person. In Spain and Mexico, it means “handsome” or “beautiful”, but in several Latin American countries, especially when applied to men, it means something completely different. In Argentina, for example, its meaning is closer to “brave”. In Puerto Rico, it actually has a negative connotation, closer to “quarrelsome”, and it can be perceived as an insult.
Rico/a is another word with a wide range of meanings. Generally, it’s used to talk about money —un hombre rico means, quite literally, “a rich man”. It can also be applied to food, to indicate that something is tasty or delicious.
But in some Spanish-speaking countries, especially in the Caribbean, rico/a can also be used to talk about people. In that case, its meaning is closer to “sexy”, and it has a very flirtatious, or even sexual, connotation.