Homey means feeling like home. In British English, homely means the same as homey. But homely is different in American English, where it means plain, simple, or unattractive. It’s often used as a polite way of saying someone is not beautiful.
In the U.S., homey is also short for homeboy or homegirl, referring to (1) a friend or acquaintance from one’s neighborhood or hometown or (2) a fellow gang member. This term peaked in the 90s and is now only rarely used in a serious way.
Scratchy, squeaky notes stabbed through the homey warmth of our living room. [The Daily Weston]
Homey and comforting, casseroles are satisfying. [Wilsonville Spokesman]
The interior is kind of like eating in your mother’s house: it’s intimate and homey. [LAist]
Homely (British English)
It is homely, with dark wood parquet floors, old-fashioned bookshelves, hushed voices. [Guardian]
Homely (American English)
America’s homely cousin might not be as hot, but she’s got a great personality and is nice and funny. [Above the Law]
In the story of “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Andersen, a homely little bird matures into a graceful swan. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]