Originally, we thought that there might not be enough expressions and synonyms to create an entire podcast on the words fat and thin. There’s fat chance of that, we thought!
However, other words for fat and thin are not thin on the ground. There are loads of them. In fact, ‘fat chance’ and ‘thin on the ground’ are just the thin end of the wedge!
Synonyms for fat
Overweight: It refers to having a body weight higher than what is considered healthy or normal for one’s height and build.
Example: “Craig has been trying another diet. He’s been overweight for years.
Obese: This term specifically denotes a high degree of excess body fat, often associated with various health risks.
Example: “Obese individuals are more prone to developing heart disease and diabetes.”
Plump: A more polite and less direct way to describe someone who is somewhat overweight.
Example: “The baby’s cheeks were so plump and adorable.”
Chubby: Similar to “plump,” it’s a gentle way to describe someone with a rounded and slightly overweight physique.
Example: “Even though she was chubby as a child, she grew up to be a confident and successful woman.”
Portly: It refers to being stout or rather round in shape, typically used to describe a person, especially an older gentleman.
Example: “The portly man entered the room with a warm smile on his face.”
Fatso: a derogatory/humorous slang term (best avoided with people unless you know them well)
Example: “Hey, fatso,” she said to her husband, “did you eat all my chocolates?!”
Expressions for fat
Carrying extra weight: A euphemism for being overweight or obese.
Example: “He’s been carrying extra weight since he stopped playing sports regularly.”
On the heavier side: A gentle way to describe someone who is overweight.
Example: “She admitted that she was on the heavier side but was determined to adopt a healthier lifestyle.”
Well built: a way of describing someone who is large and perhaps fat.
Example: “Like most of the other shot-putters in the competition, he was a well-built man.”
Big-boned: larger than the average size.
He’s not fat, he’s just big-boned.
Synonyms for “Thin”
Slim: Refers to a person who has a slender and graceful appearance.
Example: “She had a slim figure that allowed her to wear all kinds of fashionable outfits.”
Slender: A nice way of describing someone who is extremely slim and delicate.
Example: “She’s got an attractive, slender figure and glided effortlessly across the dance floor.”
Lean: This signifies having a slim body with little body fat and well-defined muscles.
Example: “The athlete’s training regimen kept him lean and agile on the field.”
Slight (to have a slight figure): thin or slender in a delicate or subtle way. It implies a small and slight build rather than being heavily built.
Example: “The ballet dancer had a slight figure, allowing her to move gracefully on stage.”
Willowy: tall, slender, and graceful, with a certain elegance and flexibility, like the slender and swaying branches of a willow tree.
Example: “She was a willowy model who effortlessly glided down the runway.”
Skinny: A casual term for someone who is very thin, but it can sometimes carry negative connotations.
Example: “Even though she ate a lot, she remained skinny and couldn’t seem to gain weight.”
Underweight: Indicates having a body weight below the normal or healthy range for one’s height and build.
Example: “The doctor expressed concern about her being underweight and advised her to gain a few kilos.”
Scrawny: Thin in an unattractive way, making the bones prominent
Example: “After 3 months at sea with virtually no supplies, the pirates all looked scrawny and ill.”
Bony: So thin that the bones under the skin are easily visible.
Example: “Victor is very tall and imposing, but when he’s undressed he actually looks really bony.”
Expressions for Thin
(All) skin and bones: An expression used to describe someone who is extremely thin, to the point where their bones are visible.
Example: “After weeks of illness, he became nothing but skin and bones.”
Painfully thin: extremely thin.
Example: I lost so much weight when I was travelling in Asia that I came back looking painfully thin.
As thin as a rake: incredibly thin
Example: “After a year on her diet of only salad and water Nancy was as thin as a rake.”
Idioms with fat and thin
Thin on the ground: This idiom means that something is scarce or not abundant, often referring to people or resources.
Example: “Volunteers were thin on the ground for the charity event, so we had to work with a small team.”
Through thick and thin: during both good and bad times.
Example: “Though they had lots of ups and downs in their relationship, Alice and Sam stayed together through thick and thin.”
Skating on thin ice: doing summer potentially dangerous or risky, which could suddenly go wrong
Example: “Stop asking Janet questions about her clothes. She’s very sensitive about her image – you’re skating on thin ice.”
Spread yourself too thin: try to do too wide a variety of things at the same time
Example: “Don’t you think working as an actor, producer, director, stuntman, and composer of soundtracks is spreading yourself too thin?”
The thin end of the wedge: This idiom refers to a small or seemingly insignificant change or action that can lead to more significant and undesirable consequences over time.
Example: “Allowing employees to work longer hours without proper compensation may be just the thin end of the wedge in terms of workers’ rights.”
Chew the fat: talk in an informal, friendly, relaxed way.
Example: “Let’s get out of the office at lunchtime, relax and maybe the chew the fat together for a bit.”
A fat lot of use: a colloquial way of saying not at all useful
Example: “A fat lot of use my mobile is now with no battery and no charger!”
Fat chance: This idiom expresses skepticism or a lack of belief that something will happen.
Example: “He asked his boss for a raise, but with the company’s financial troubles, he knows there’s a fat chance of getting one.”
Do you have sympathy for fat people or do you think there’s no excuse for being overweight? Is it simply a matter of self-control?
…and now it’s your turn to practise your English. If you are overweight, are there some words that you strongly dislike in English for referring to fat people?
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In next week’s episode: Compound Adjectives
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