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.
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.
“I hate my flabby stomach”
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”
“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”
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.
Image Sources: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Adjectives for Describing Appearance - Vocabulary & Grammar
A List of English adjectives that are used for describing people's looks and appearance
attractive - a person who is good looking. (male or female)
Example sentence: Shakira is a very attractive woman.
bald - a person who has no hair. Some bald people shave their heads.
Example sentences:The male actor Bruce Willis is bald. He has a shaved head.
beautiful - a person who is extremely good looking (mainly used to describe women).
Example sentence: The American singer Beyonce is very beautiful.
blonde - a person who has yellow hair.
Example sentence: The American celebrity Paris Hilton has blonde hair.
chubby - a polite way of describing someone who is a bit overweight.
Example sentence: Russell Crowe is looking a bit chubby lately, isn't he?
curvy - a woman with a large bust, broad hips and a small waist.
Example sentence: Katie Price is very curvy.
fat - a very negative way to describe someone who is overweight (very rude and a bit insulting!).
Example sentence: Kirstie Alley starred in the American sitcom "Fat Actress".
fit - (1) someone who gets a lot of exercise and is very healthy. (2) A very attractive person.
Example sentences:(1) David Beckham is physically fit. (2) David Beckham is fit!
flabby - Used to describe someone who does not get much exercise, with poor muscle tone.
Example sentence: I was looking a bit flabby, so I've joined a gym.
gorgeous - very attractive (used to describe men and women).
Example sentence: I think Johnny Depp is gorgeous!
handsome - a man who is extremely good looking.
Example sentence: Brad Pitt is very handsome.
large - someone who is overweight (neutral).
Example sentence: Fashionable clothes for large women can be hard to find.
muscular - someone who is very toned and has well defined muscles.
Example sentence: Madonna is quite muscular for a woman. Her arms are very toned.
obese - used to describe someone who is very fat (impolite).
Example sentence: Being obese is bad for your health.
ordinary - somebody who is very plain, or average looking; not especially beautiful.
Example sentence: Lady Gaga looks very ordinary without make up.
plain - somebody who is very ordinary-looking.
Example sentence: Some models look very plain when they take off their make-up.
plump - a tactful way of describing someone who is overweight (mainly British English).
Example sentence: The plump British actress Dawn French is a brunette.
presentable - another way of saying someone looks smart.
Example sentence: If you want to get ahead in your job, you need to look presentable.
redhead - a person with orange hair.
Example sentence: Nicole Kidman is a redhead.
scruffy - used to describe someone whose appearance is very untidy.
Example sentence: Pete Docherty is very scruffy.
shapely - a curvy woman with a small waist.
Example sentence: Kylie Minogue is very shapely.
short - used to describe someone who isn't very tall.
Example sentence: American actor Tom Cruise is fairly short.
skinny - used to describe someone who is very thin (impolite).
Example sentence: Many fashion models are way too skinny.
slender - used to describe a thin person who looks healthy.
Example sentence: Actress Julia Roberts is very slender.
smart - used to describe someone who takes a lot of care over their appearance.
Example sentence: It is important to look smart if you want to make a good impression.
stocky - someone who is broad and not very tall. Mainly used to describe men.
Example sentence: Simon Cowell is quite short, with dark hair and a stocky build.
tall - used to describe someone who is above average height.
Example sentence: Sports personality Michael Jordan is very tall.
tattooed - used to describe someone who has tattoos.
Example sentence: Justin Bieber has a lot of tattoos.
thin - used to describe someone who weighs less than the average person (impolite!).
Example sentence: Victoria Beckham is very thin.
unkempt - used to describe someone who looks scruffy and does not take care of their appearance.
Example sentence: Amy Winehouse sometimes looked unkempt in photographs.
well-built - someone whose body shape or size is bigger than the average person.
Example sentence: Arnold Schwarzenegger is well-built.
Be careful using negative adjectives when commenting on a person's appearance, as some people may be very offended by them!
In most situations it is safer to use a neutral or positive adjective (for example slender instead of thin, large instead of fat).