派手 [はで] – showy; flashy; gaudy

  • 派 [ハ] – faction; sect; clique
  • 手 [シュ・て] – hand

Taken at face value, this compound has never made much sense to me.  Faction-hand?

The first time I heard this word, it was in the form of a question posed by an ex-girlfriend: ね〜、派手な女好き?  Going by the dictionary definition of the word, it was hard to imagine what she meant.  “Do you like gaudy women?”  The explanation came when I looked over at the woman who had sparked the question in the first place.  She was hot, wore lots of make up, high heels, and a skin-tight skirt.  Ever since that question, that is how I imagine 派手.