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37 English Words for Describing a Person’s Appearance

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In this lesson you’re going to expand your vocabulary with 37 words to describe a person’s appearance.

Let’s begin with the word beautiful – in English, this word is mostly used for women. We use the word handsome for men. To describe beautiful women, we also have the words pretty, lovely, gorgeous, and stunning – “stunning” means extremely beautiful, like a woman who is so beautiful that she attracts a lot of attention!

Another expression to describe a woman like this is to say that “She turns heads” – implying that when she walks down the street, people turn their heads to focus their attention on her.

The words attractive, good-looking, cute, and hot can be used for both men and women. Cute is a more playful word to say a person is attractive; we often use “cute” for children and baby animals. And the word hot is a slang word that you should only use during informal conversations among friends.

The opposite of beautiful or handsome is ugly – but that’s a strong word, so most people express this idea using the negative form of one of the positive words, for example: “She’s not very attractive” or “He’s not so good-looking.”

Finally, there is the word plain – that describes a person who is ordinary-looking – not especially beautiful/handsome, but not especially ugly either.

English Words for “Fat”

Okay, now let’s learn some words to describe body shape and size. You already know the basic words fat and thin – but there are many other ways to say these.

English vocabulary words describing appearance

“I hate my flabby stomach.”

A person who is fat can also be described as overweight, heavy, big, or large. The word for a person who is EXTREMELY fat is obese.

We also have the word chubby to describe fat children; husky or heavyset to describe fat men; and plump or curvy to describe fat women (the word curvy has a more positive connotation, implying that the woman has a nice, full, feminine body).

If you want to say a specific part of the body is fat, you can say it is flabby – for example, “I hate my flabby stomach.” (typically used for arms, stomach, thighs, and butt).

English Words for “Thin”

English vocabulary words describing appearance

My sister is slender.

The opposite of fat is thin. Some alternative words are slim, slender, skinny, lean, wiry, petite, and lanky. In general, thin, slim, and slender are more positive, whereas skinny is often used as a criticism or negative point.

The words lean and wiry mean that the person is thin AND muscular. The word petite is only used for women, and means that the woman is short AND thin. Finally, the word lanky means tall and thin.

English Words for “Muscular”

English vocabulary words describing appearance

What about a person with an athletic body?

You can describe him or her as muscular, fit, strong,  in good shape, or “ripped” – that’s a slang word meaning that the person has very well-defined and visible muscles – like the guy in this photo.

 

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