Describing People’s Appearance In English

Describing people’s appearance in English can be tricky for non-native English speakers. In this lesson, you will learn C1 Level advanced English adjectives used to describe physical appearance, a must-know for boosting your English vocabulary.

Perfect for non-native speakers aiming to refine their English speaking skills, this lesson offers clear explanations and examples to help you describe people in detail.

Whether you’re preparing for exams like TOEFL, IELTS, or CAE, or you want to improve your everyday English, these adjectives will make your language more exact and help you speak with confidence.

Listen to the podcast Speak Better English with Harry or watch it on YouTube at Learn English with Harry. englishclass101

How to describe people in English

Describing People’s Appearance In English

When we describe people’s physical appearance, we often use basic terms like short, tall, fat, or skinny. These are general words that work well for everyday use. However, if you’re looking to add some variety to your descriptions, or want to talk about people you know or see in more detail, you might want to learn some advanced adjectives.

These detailed adjectives are commonly found in writing, making them useful for enriching your conversational English. As I introduce these adjectives, I’ll point out a few that you should use cautiously. In today’s world, it’s important to be mindful of being politically correct, as some terms might be offensive to others. I’ll make sure to give you a heads-up about these words.

It’s still important to know these words, as they are widely used and can enhance your English vocabulary.


Meaning: very tall and thin, often in a way that makes them seem awkward


The lanky man had to bend his head to avoid hitting the doorframe.

When he was 14, he shot up and became really lanky, much taller than his classmates.


Meaning: (about legs) long, thin, and looks weak, like it could easily break


Jake was tall with spindly legs that made him look awkward when he ran.

When Timmy saw the daddy long-legs spider with its long, spindly legs, he got scared.

Sarah had spindly arms and struggled to carry the heavy groceries.


Meaning: someone who looks weak or frail in their appearance


Despite his feeble appearance, the old man had a strong spirit.

Tom’s feeble appearance made him look frail and weak.

A strong wind might blow a feeble person away.


Meaning: someone looks fragile and very gentle, not very strong


The newborn baby had delicate features, with tiny fingers and soft, thin hair.

I’m a little bit delicate today after the party last night; even a small noise seems too much.

Describing People’s Appearance In English

Describing People’s Appearance In English. Adjectives to describe physical appearance in English. English speaking skills #learnenglish #vocabulary


Meaning: very weak and easily hurt, often due to being thin and lacking physical strength


My grandfather looks frail now; he’s much thinner and gets tired easily.

My grandma is very frail these days; we have to be very careful when helping her up.


Meaning: having a delicate or thin build, not heavily or strongly built


Long-distance runners often have a slight build.

She has a slight figure, making her movements appear graceful and effortless.

She might have been slight, but her confidence made her stand out.


Meaning: someone who looks very thin, often with noticeably hollow cheeks


She lost a lot of weight quickly, leaving her looking gaunt.

She looked gaunt because she hadn’t been eating well, but now she’s trying to improve her diet.


Meaning: someone’s bones are very prominent due to having little flesh or fat covering them


He is very bony; he doesn’t have much muscle.

For “Oppenheimer,” Cillian Murphy got very thin, making him look bony for the part.

book your trial English Lesson


Meaning: very thin, often with little fat or muscle, giving them a slender appearance


He’s so skinny, you can see his jeans are too big for him.

He is skinny, which is why skinny jeans and slim-fitting shirts are his preferred choices—they fit him perfectly.


Meaning: looking old and in bad condition, often because of age


The old man had a decrepit appearance, with his clothes hanging loosely on his thin frame.

The decrepit old man shuffled slowly down the hallway, each step echoing in the quiet space.


Meaning: someone is slightly overweight or has a round, full shape


Jonathan was a plump baby who loved listening to stories, his wide eyes full of wonder every time he heard one.

He was a plump child, but once he started running around, he lost his baby fat and became full of energy.


Meaning: having a large, bulky body; overweight or having a lot of body fat


After indulging in too many corporate lunches, the businessman has grown corpulent.

Rubens often painted corpulent figures, presenting them beautifully with his use of rich colours.

Describing People’s Appearance In English

Describing People’s Appearance In English. Adjectives to describe physical appearance in English. English speaking skills #learnenglish #vocabulary


Meaning: someone with a broad and solid build, often suggesting strength and a bit of extra weight


The new firefighter is stout and strong, exactly the kind of person you’d want in a rescue.

After years of enjoying good food, he became a stout man, with a noticeable belly but still strong.


Meaning: someone who is big, strong, and looks like they weigh a lot


The new player on the team is hefty, clearly bringing both size and strength to the lineup.

If you’re short, stout, and hefty, you might want to use simple colours to help you look taller and slimmer.

I usually get a bit hefty during the winter, thanks to all the comfort food and less time spent outdoors.


Meaning: someone is strong and a bit bigger, often looking solid and heavy


You can spot the rugby player from afar, husky and ready for action on the field.

His husky frame made him an imposing figure, towering over most with a broad chest and strong arms.


Meaning: a larger, more muscular physique, emphasising bulk and an imposing physical presence


The front-row rugby players were all burly, big and strong, perfect for pushing hard in the game.

The burly rugby player charged down the field, using his strong, muscular build to break through tackles.

speak better English with Harry podcast- episode 479

Describing People’s Appearance In English

Describing People’s Appearance In English. Adjectives to describe physical appearance in English. English speaking skills #learnenglish #vocabulary


Meaning: a strong and dependable build, not necessarily large but well-constructed and resilient


He is a sturdy young man, capable of lifting heavy weights with ease.

He’s a sturdy man, always the first to help when it comes to moving furniture or heavy boxes.


Meaning: someone looks strong and healthy


She had a robust figure, always energetic and ready for a day of hiking or sports.

The farmer was robust, with a broad chest and strong arms from years of working the land.


Meaning: a full and rounded body shape, featuring prominent curves


Marilyn Monroe, famous for her voluptuous body, became an iconic symbol of glamour and charm in Hollywood.

Christina Hendricks was known for her voluptuous figure in “Mad Men,” fitting her 1960s character perfectly.


Meaning: slightly overweight, with a round and soft body


He was chubby as a baby, with soft, round cheeks and chunky little arms and legs.

Oh, she was a chubby baby, always smiling with her big, round cheeks.

So there we have 20 advanced English adjectives for describing people’s appearance in English. As I mentioned, they all concern the shape and frame. You can use these terms; you’ll find them in books and written materials. They are useful for describing people you see.

However, it’s important to be cautious and ensure that your descriptions are not offensive in any way.

If you need to contact me, if you need some additional help with the words or explanation, then get in touch with me at and I certainly try to help you out.

This is Harry saying goodbye. Thanks for watching, thanks for listening. See you again soon.

more information

For more information on English grammar rules, English collocations and English idioms, check out the links below:

English Expressions with GET

English Expressions about Challenges

You can always study English advanced level at Learning English with the BBC and British Council Learn English.

You will love these English lessons