However, the words hermoso or hermosa conjure up an image that might not correspond to what you might imagine as being “beautiful” in every case. Think of it like the English words “handsome”, “cute”, or “pretty” — they each bring up different images in your head.
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 (or Hermoso)
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
You can describe other things as hermoso or hermosa. For example, you might describe a landscape, a piece of art, or a feeling with the word.
¡Que paisaje más hermoso!
La idea que describiste fue muy hermosa.
Tuve una experiencia muy hermosa.
Pasamos juntos un momento bastante hermoso.
What a beautiful landscape!
The idea you described was very beautiful.
I had a very beautiful experience.
We spent quite a beautiful moment together.
Alternatives to Hermosa
There are a few other words you can use to describe the same concept as hermoso or 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, guapo means “handsome” or “beautiful”, but in several Latin American countries, especially when applied to men, it means something completely different. In Argentina, for example, guapo has a meaning 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”.
You can also use the word rico or rica to describe food as tasty. You will often hear people say ¡Qué rico! when eating something 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.