Skip to Content

30+ Words to Describe Different Body Shapes and Sizes

30+ Words to Describe Different Body Shapes and Sizes

When describing characters, it isn’t enough to call them “tall” or “short”, or even “fat” or “slim”. It requires specific words to describe body shape to paint an image of the character in your readers’ heads.

Surely the character’s body shape is more than just a generalized term. You may even have two “fat” characters, but using the same words to describe them wouldn’t do much justice when one is stumpy, and the other is tall and paunchy.

Once you have conjured up the character in your head, you need to pay close attention to these words to describe their body shape and pick the most suitable ones:


7 words to describe a muscular/athletic body shape

Not all muscular/athletic body types are the same. Sure, they all fall into the same category, but using more specific words to describe body shape paints an even clearer image of what you envision a character to be.
Here are 7 words to describe body shape for muscular/athletic characters:

We can usually tell when a person is into sports or if they work out a lot by how they appear. You may use the word active to describe someone who is clearly in shape. The use of this word may also work well when describing their clothing, as basketball shorts or yoga pants might help to give this impression.
Here’s what you can say:
“I couldn’t help but watch how the new girl’s active shape complemented her vibrant eyes and glowing skin.”


woman in black sleeveless running wearing armband
Photo by Filip Mroz on unsplash


The word beefy is best used when a character is muscular and thick. This is more than simply being muscular, as he/she is dense, and looks heavy. It’s best used with bodybuilders and football players.
Here’s one way to use the word:
“She repeated her question, but once again, he responded by shrugging his beefy shoulders.”


Someone who is compact is muscular and has smaller proportions than a beefy person. He/she is solid and well-proportioned. For instance, a light-weight boxer or wrestler. It may also mean that he/she is on the short side.
This is how you can say it:
“At only 5”3’, his compact frame made him more intimidating to the guys in the locker room.”


man boxing punching bag punch workout

Photo by Damir Spanic on unsplash


Though the word durable is generally used to describe inanimate objects, it’s a perfect word to use if you wish to refer to one’s stamina and endurance, or someone who is a bit older and is in shape.
Here’s what you can say:
“It was evident by his durable physique that he took his years of training in the Marines with him to his 50s.”


Use the word lean when you wish to refer to an athletic person who has little body fat and doesn’t necessarily have well-defined muscles. This is an example of how to use this word:
“Her lean body and dominant height intimidated the other team’s captain, but she also had to appear fearless to the rest of her teammates.”


man exercising inside dim room pulling

Photo by Valery Sysoev on unsplash


A ripped person has well-defined muscles that often show through their clothing. Their body is composed mainly of muscle and they have very little fat on their body.
Here’s one way the word ripped may be used:
“I hadn’t seen him since our high school graduation but I was surprised to see how ripped that skinny kid got in only 3 years!”


The word toned is best used for athletic body types. It means the person is well-defined but isn’t over-the-top when it comes to muscle.
This is an example:
“The dress she wore emphasized her toned physique.”



7 words to describe a sexy body

There are different understandings of what it means to be sexy, so you have to be more specific when writing about this body type.
For some, sexy means a person with large breasts and buttocks, while others find smaller features more attractive.
Take a look at these words to describe body shape for sexy characters, then take your pick:

Busty comes from the word ‘bust’ and refers to a woman with large boobs. It is useful when describing characters, as sexy can range from an A cup to DD and beyond.
Here’s one way you can say it:
“Unfortunately, the men in the meeting were more interested in her busty body than the presentation she worked so hard on.”


topless woman lying on bed with flowers
Photo by Ferdinand studio on unsplash


The word chiseled is more often used to describe male characters. It means that he/she has a muscular or well-defined body shape.
This is one way to say it:
“It was as if his chiseled body was molded by the gods themselves.”


Curvy generally speaks to a woman’s body shape. The stereotypical female body is an hourglass shape, with a thin waist, wider hips, and a proportionate upper body.
Check out this example of usage:
“The way the dress wrapped her curvy body made him stop in his tracks.”


woman standing on beach photo wearing black two piece

Photo by Anastasiia Boivka on unsplash


A sexy body shape may be one that is graceful, or in other words, elegant, agile, and well-poised.
Here’s one way to say it:
“Her graceful physique moved as though she was walking on air.”


If your character is properly groomed to suit his/her body shape, and does not have excess fat, but isn’t skeletal, then neat is the perfect word.
This is one way ‘neat’ may be used with other words to describe body shape:
“It was her neat, petite body that attracted her fiance, but it was her personality that got him down on one knee.”


Seductive is a word you can use in romantic or sexual scenes where one character is attracted to another’s body shape. It is good to use because it speaks to the feelings of one character, and the shape of the other.
Here’s how you can use it:
“Her seductive body matched her feminine voice.”


woman in black bikini sitting on brown sand

Photo by Michael B. Luong under pexels license


The term well-endowed is similar in meaning to busty, however, this term is much more often in reference to a man’s genitals than anything else.
Here’s one way to say it:
“The girls lined up at the fence, not to watch the match, but to sneak a peek at how well-endowed the new quarterback was.”


7 words to describe a fat body shape

Now, let’s move on to characters one can generalize as “fat”.
Here are 8 words to describe body shape for the different versions of fat:

Big-boned is a good word to use as a euphemism for characters who don’t like using the word ‘fat’ because of its negative connotation.
Here is an example of how it may be used:
“She replied to the bully by saying ‘I’m not fat, I’m just big boned’ before walking off with her friends.”


woman in black shirt and blue denim standing

Photo by Jade Orth on unsplash


Chubby is a good word to use to describe someone who has a ‘healthy weight’. In other words, they are just a bit on the plump side.
This is how you can say it:
“She chased her chubby baby across the room as he ran off with her phone.”


chubby man in black framed eyeglasses

Photo by Aryo Lahap on unsplash


Use the word matronly when you wish to describe the weight of a woman who has borne children. This added weight should not be observed in a negative light.
This is how you can say it:
“She wore her matronly body well after giving birth to a healthy set of twins.”


The term obese should be used for someone who is grossly overweight. It is the most appropriate word to use for someone on the extreme end of the fat spectrum.
Here’s an example of usage:
“He was morbidly obese and could hardly walk a few steps before he had to catch his breath.”



Overweight may be used for a character who is not obese, but still carries around a few extra pounds.
This is an example of usage:
“Though she desperately wanted to lose weight, she could not handle the stares in the gym as she lugged her overweight body on the scale.”


The word paunchy is perfect for people whose fat is concentrated in their stomach, sort of like a beer belly. Their other body parts aren’t usually fat, and their stomach protrudes over their frame.
Here is an example of usage:
“He was a balding, elderly fellow with a paunchy body and short stature.”


man in yellow shirt and brown pants using smartphone
Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on unsplash


Stout is the word used for characters who are fat, thick and short.
This is how you can say it:
“Instead of calling her stout, how about fun-sized?”


8 slim body shapes

Just as there are different versions of a fat body, there are different versions of slim body shapes. Use any of these words to describe body shapes of slim characters to paint a more accurate picture:

The term bony describes an extremely slim body shape. It means that the character is so thin or slim that their bones protrude or become well defined.
This is how you can say it:
“His clothes swung in the wind around his bony body.”


gray scale photo of man reaching to his back

Photo by Olenka Kotyk on unsplash


The term dainty is best used to describe slim body shapes that are graceful and not awkward. Usually, a dainty slim person is petite and has a proportionate build.
Here is one way the term may be used:
“Her dainty body made it appear as though she would break if she were to fall over.”


Use the word gaunt if the character is slim because of a lack of food or nutrition, as a result of old age, or a medical condition. This is usually marked by bony ribs, frail limbs, and hollowed cheeks.
“The country had been at war for only five months, and the gaunt frames of the orphaned children made it clear that they were fighting a battle as well.”


gray scale old man photo walkinggray scale old man photo walking

Photo by Frank Busch on unsplash


The word lanky is the opposite of dainty. It may be used when the character is tall and awkward and isn’t graceful in his/her movement.
This is how you can say it:
“He was long-limbed and lanky, and hit his head on all the fandangles that hung from her ceiling.”


The term slight is best used for people who are so slim that they appear as though they would break if they were to fall over or would be blown away in a strong breeze.
Here is one way this may be used with other words to describe body shape when you have slim characters:
“She’s got a slight build, and lanky frame.”



Skinny is a good word to use for a person who has little body fat but doesn’t necessarily look gaunt or anorexic. It may simply be due to their metabolism.
Check out this example of usage:
“Blake had always been a skinny kid growing up, so his weight gain took everyone by surprise.”


The term stooped is ideal for characters who are tall and awkward, and as a result, walk with a hunch as though walking underneath a short doorway.
Here’s an example of how this term may be used:
“Her stooped shape gave the impression that she lacked self-confidence. She tended to avoid interactions with others.”


man wearing shorts walking hunchback
Photo by Ryan Chia on unsplash


Use this word to describe a character who is thin, but also athletic. It means he/she is slim, yet strong.
Here’s how you can say it:
“The crowd erupted in cheers as the wiry gymnast made her way to the podium.”


5 words to describe body shape when talking about body sizes

You may also use words to describe body shape based on a character’s size. This will help to put things into perspective for your readers and makes your choice of words more effective.
Here are 5 words to describe body shape when talking about the character’s size:

Dwarves are miniature-sized humans, known for being short and stump. Use this word to describe any character that fits this description.
Here’s one way it may be used:
“Though Erin was of average height, he appeared dwarfish beside his long-legged brothers.”


Leggy is a word that is used to describe characters with long legs, usually women. This word is meant to be a compliment.
For example:
“He loved seeing his leggy wife in short pencil skirts and high heels.”


woman wearing black underwear sitting on brown sand

Photo by Apostolos Vamvouras on unsplash


Use the word slender when you wish to refer to someone who is both tall and thin, but in a graceful way.
Here’s one way to use it:
“He wondered if she was a model because of her slender body and elongated neck.”


Use the word towering to refer to characters who are unusually tall. In other words, their height allows them to tower over everyone else.
This is one way it may be used:
“He was only a freshman, but his towering size intimidated even the seniors.”


man in black jacket leather jacket

Photo by Korhan Erdol under pexels license


The term vulnerable may be used for petite characters. It may be used to imply that the character is much shorter than others, and as a result, may not be taken as seriously or may even be mistaken for a child.
Here is one example of how you may use the term vulnerable:
“Margo appeared so vulnerable amongst her peers who seemed to have had overnight growth spurts.”



And there you have it! 30+ of the best words to describe body shape for virtually any character you can think of.
Now, you can work on developing other elements of your story to complete a spectacular piece. Good luck!