skinny

AirbusA321

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Do all these terms mean the same?

The woman over there looks very...

skinny
meager
slender
thin
slim
gaunt
scrawny
slight
spare
lank
lean
svelte
trim
slimline

Which of these are more likely to be used in everyday talk?
 

Tdol

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I wouldn't use meagre/spare/lank. They don't all mean the same. For a start, are you trying to be positive or does she look underweight, possibly ill?
 

andrewg927

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It should be "lanky".
 

bubbha

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When describing people:

"skinny", "slight" and "thin" are generally neutral in connotation.

"slender", "slim", "lean", "trim" and "svelte" are positive.

"gaunt" and "scrawny" are negative.

"lanky" means tall, skinny and uncoordinated, and is neutral to negative.

"meager" doesn't describe people.

"slimline" is a term I'm unfamiliar with.
 

Lynxear

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"Slimeline" is a British English adjective.

I have heard of it being used in Canada, but it was used to describe a car, not a woman.
 

emsr2d2

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Slimline (not "slimeline") is used in BrE but not usually to refer to people. We have "slimline tonic [water]". It's used in the same way that "diet" (BrE) or "light" (AmE and probably other variants) are used to express that a food or drink has fewer calories than its standard equivalent.
 

AirbusA321

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How about "bony" and "skeletal" for very skinny people? Would that be acceptable in colloquial speech?
 

emsr2d2

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"Skeletal" certainly works. It even suggests that the person is so skinny that they might be very ill, close to death even.
"Bony" would probably be taken to mean the same thing but it could just mean that the bones are quite visible. I know someone who is thin (although not "very skinny") and she has very pointy visible cheekbones and ribs.
 

Skrej

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You'll sometimes hear 'bony' to describe young, prepubescent kids in addition to the contexts emsr suggests. It's mildly negative, although in this context it's just addressing a natural growth phase that many kids go through. It's addressing the awkwardness of puberty rather than being truly derogatory.

That boy/girl is very bony - all elbows and knees.
 

GoesStation

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A positive way to describe girls at that age is "coltish". Their legs are often disproportionately long in the same way as a colt's legs are.
 

andrewg927

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"Skinny" in "skinny girls" is something to be envied (but not in a negative way) but I sometimes hear mothers talk about "skinny" like it is a crime.
 

Tdol

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Skinny is unlikely to be viewed positively outside skinny jeans in BrE. I may well be out of touch, but that is the only positive example that comes to mind.
 

andrewg927

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I have only heard of "anorexia" as a medical condition. I don't think it is used outside the medical realm.
 

Tdol

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I have heard it used in BrE outside the medical realm.
 

bubbha

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Don't forget "emaciated". It's quite an extreme word on the scale of thinness. That word makes me think of victims of famine, anorexia, or concentration camps.
 

emsr2d2

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"She/he looks anorexic" is frequently used in everyday BrE when spotting someone so thin they look ill.
 
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