You may be surprised to learn that the same words can be used to talk about both food and people. However, as you'll see in this article, there are quite a few that can!
While most of these words are useful when discussing personalities, a few of them are used to describe body types instead. When you read the explanations, the reasons why they are used this way should be easy to understand. Let's dig in!*
*"Dig in" is an idiom that means to eat with enthusiasm.
Most English learners will know this adjective, which is used to describe something with a lot of sugar, such as candy or soda.
When talking about someone's personality, however, the meaning becomes "gentle" or "caring."
"Bitter" is very different from sweet since it describes a strong, sharp taste. Some types of chocolate and fruits like oranges can be described as bitter.
For personalities, bitter describes a person who is angry or upset because they feel they have been treated unfairly. It can also refer to someone who has a generally negative attitude about life or particular situations.
Foods described as "dry" usually do not have much moisture (water, milk, etc.). When talking about alcohol, it means the drink is not sweet.
If dry is used to describe a personality, it can mean the person is not very warm or does not share or understand the feelings of others. It could also mean simply "uninteresting."
You can also say that someone has a dry sense of humor, which means they are very sarcastic or use irony often. This nuance is not as negative as the one above.
It shouldn't be difficult to imagine what this means when talking about food; something "salty" has a lot of salt!
Salty can also be used as slang to describe a person who is angry. This usage is almost the same as "bitter," though it is more casual.
Food is sour when it has the taste of acid, similar to lemon juice, for example. You can also use it to describe some foods and drinks, such as milk, when they are no longer fresh.
When describing personalities, someone who is sour is not friendly or cheerful.
It's not only for ice cream! When talking about people, products and much more, something is "vanilla" if it's ordinary and doesn't have any unique features or characteristics to make it stand out. Things described as vanilla are not good or bad; instead, they are simply average and not very special.
You probably know that if someone is rich, they have a lot of money or valuable things.
However, when describing taste, it means that a food or drink has a lot of fat, butter or other such ingredients. Rich foods often make people feel full quickly.
You can use "fiery" to describe foods that are very spicy.
A fiery personality can mean that a person is very enthusiastic, very confident or experiences big, dramatic changes in their emotions.
Something that is "fishy" smells or tastes like fish, of course!
However, this word is more commonly used to describe situations and sometimes people. Its meaning is similar to "suspicious."
Like you may have guessed, "cheesy" for food means something has a lot of cheese.
When talking about people and their manners, it means something is not cool or stylish, or that is too silly.
It can also be used for things like movies and songs. In addition to silly, it can include the nuance of being too dramatic or emotional, especially in a way that is not believable.
If someone has a cheesy smile, they might not be very honest.
Dough is a mixture of flour and liquid that is used to make bread, cakes and other snacks. As an adjective, it becomes "doughy," which describes something soft (like bread dough) or something that is only half-baked.
Doughy isn't used for personalities, but it can describe a person's body. Someone who is overweight or who has a soft body can be called doughy. It may also include the meaning of pale, or white in an unhealthy way.
Here is another word that shouldn't be difficult to understand; "meaty" foods have lots of meat in them.
When using it to talk about people, meaty means that they are overweight or that they are very muscular.
The last word on our list is "hearty," which describes food that is rich and likely to make you feel full.
When describing people, it means "cheerful."
*"Hale and hearty" means "healthy and energetic," especially when talking about older people.
One word, multiple meanings
Words like those we've covered in this list can be great for English learners since you can get more "bang for your buck" with each new vocabulary word. Look for opportunities to try them out and your conversations will instantly become more expressive and interesting. Just be careful: Some of these words aren't very polite to say directly to someone!