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16 Words for Describing Different Body Types

16 Words for Describing Different Body Types

Most learners will know the common adjectives for describing body shapes; words like "tall," "fat" and "short." But these words are very basic, and can sometimes even be impolite.

Luckily, there are many more options to choose from when the common words aren't quite what you want to say. This article will introduce you to some of them and give examples of how they are used in daily conversations. 


A smiling, lanky man in a lime green shirt and blue pants

This describes a body shape that is both tall and slim. It is not a purely negative word, but it does include the nuance that the person moves in an uncomfortable or unnatural way.

Josh has become really lanky since he started high school.


A heavyset man talking on a phone while standing beside a car outdoors

Similar to "overweight," this word is a more polite way of saying "fat."

Who's that heavyset guy sitting over there in the corner?


A smiling, stocky man standing with his arms folded

"Stocky" people are neither thin nor overweight, but their bodies are wider, heavier and shorter than average.

Most of the people on the wrestling team have strong, stocky bodies.


A chubby baby looking out from underneath a fuzzy, white blanket

This is another way to softly describe someone who is overweight. However, "chubby" people are usually not as heavy as those who may be considered fat.

This word is also used to describe babies who are bigger than average. The negative nuance of being overweight does not apply in these situations.

Their chubby little baby is so cute!

Slim / Thin

A slim young man standing near the entrance to a performance space

Just like "fat" is quite direct and rude, "skinny" can also sound a bit negative. A more polite way of saying this is with either "slim" or "thin."

Linda is quite slim even though she eats whatever she wants.
These photos are from when I was younger and thinner.

We use "slim down" as another way of saying "lose weight."

I'm trying to slim down, so I exercise every day.


"Slender" has the same meaning as the previous two words. Unlike those, however, it is generally used for women only. 

The supermodel is famous for her slender body and luxurious lifestyle.

It can also describe thin body parts such as legs, fingers and necks.

The top she's wearing really makes you notice how slender her neck is.

Buff / Muscular

Both of these words can describe someone whose body is large and strong. "Buff" is more casual than "muscular."

Jim was pretty small in high school, but he's really buff now.
The gym was full of muscular men and women lifting weights.


This is a slang term to describe someone with a lot of muscles. It comes from the verb "to swell," which means to become bigger.

If I want to get swole, I can't just work out — I need to change my diet too.


A very muscular man flexing his muscles in a gym

People who are buff or swole may be big, but someone who is "ripped" has very little fat on their bodies. Because of that, their muscles are very clear and easy to see. Think of bodybuilders and you will have the right image!

Casey has gotten absolutely ripped since he got a personal trainer.
In order to play the action hero, the actor has to get ripped before filming begins next year.


A frail, elderly man standing with a cane in front of a wooden gate outdoors

This word describes someone who looks small and weak. It can sometimes include the nuance of sickness.

Jenny became really frail when she was sick last year. I'm happy to see her looking healthy again.


This is a slang term for describing someone whose body is bigger than average with a positive and sexy nuance. It is pronounced just like "thick," which is the word it comes from. It is mostly used to talk about women.

Those fashion models are too skinny for me. I prefer thicc women!

Voluptuous / Curvy

Similar to thicc, these words describe women whose bodies are large in ways that are considered healthy and beautiful. "Curvy" is a bit more common in daily conversations.

Marilyn Monroe is a famous example of a voluptuous woman.
Lisa is quite curvy, but it's hard to notice because of the loose clothes she wears.


A fit young woman resting with an exercise ball while women exercise behind her

So what do you call someone who's not very muscular but still has a healthy, strong body? We call them "fit."

My goal for this year is to stop being so lazy and finally get fit.

In British English, it is an informal way to say someone is good looking.

Dave's new girlfriend is incredibly fit. I'm so jealous!


It's important to remember that talking about peoples' bodies should always be done with care and respect. In fact, discussing sensitive topics like these is when you'll really appreciate having a large vocabulary. That should be great motivation for you to study hard!