Could you describe a person in Italian? You are certainly thinking that it’s a piece of cake, aren’t you? Alto, magro, basso, grasso… but what if we told you that there are many other adjectives that you can use in order to avoid repetitions and banalities? This lesson is not only for beginners, on the contrary! We’re sure that 90% of students of Italian don’t know all the words we are going to see today! Shall we bet?
Adjectives and expressions to DESCRIBE someone in Italian
For practical reasons, in this lesson we will use the adjectives in the basic form, the one you can find in dictionaries, that is the masculine singular, but obviously you can agree all these adjectives in gender and number according to your needs.
Describing the HEIGHT of a person
How would you express the height of a person? Probably with the adjectives alto (tall) or basso (short)!
But there are many other variables! First of all, it is possible to add words such as piuttosto (pretty), abbastanza (quite) or molto (very).
piuttosto basso (pretty short)
molto alto (very tall)
abbastanza basso (quite short)
and so on…
And what if a person is neither tall nor short? Then he or she will be di media altezza (of medium height).
Obviously, if possible, you can be more precise and tell the real height of the person. In Italy, the measurement unit to express the height is the meter.
Graziana è alta 1 metro e 70 (centimetri) (Graziana is 1 meter and 70 centimeters tall)
Rocco è alto 1 metro e 75 (centimetri) (Rocco is 1 meter and 75 centimeters tall)
and so on…
Finally, in reference to the height, you can also use the adjectives:
SLANCIATO → (slender)
ALLAMPANATO → (lanky), just as a lamppost!
How to describe the PHYSIQUE
Obviously this is a thorny subject and, if you don’t pay attention, you risk to offend someone!
The basic terms are magro (thin) and grasso (fat), but they’re not very polite… Fortunately there are other different options: some are polite (to make a good impression), others are more offensive, which you need to know if someone uses them with you!
Kinder ways to say “thin”:
SNELLO → (slim)
MINUTO → (petite)
(AVERE) UN FISICO ASCIUTTO → (to have a lean look)
(ESSERE) IN FORMA → (to be in shape)
MUSCOLOSO / AITANTE → (muscly / strapping)
Kinder ways for “fat”, who is really a bad term!
PAFFUTO → (chubby), especially for children
IN CARNE → (chubby)
FORMOSA → (curvy)
PROCACE → (sexy)
FLORIDO / ROBUSTO / CORPULENTO → (robust)
More offensive ways of saying “thin”:
MINGHERLINO → (skinny)
ESILE / GRACILE → (slight)
SMUNTO → (gaunt)
OSSUTO / PELLE E OSSA / SCARNO / SCHELETRICO → (bony)
SOTTOPESO / ANORESSICO → (underweight, anorexic)
More offensive ways of saying “grasso”, although “grasso” is already a little offensive, are:
CICCIONE → (fat)
TOZZO → (stocky)
OBESO / SOVRAPPESO → (obese, overweight)
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How to describe the HAIR
In order to express the COLOR we can use different formulas:
ESSERE + adjective agreed in gender and number → For example: Sono bionda (I am blonde)
AVERE I CAPELLI + plural adjective → For example: Ho i capelli biondi (I have blonde hair) or two singular adjectives if we want to be more specific → For example: Ho i capelli biondo cenere (I have dirty blond hair)
IL COLORE DEI MIEI CAPELLI È + singular adjective → For example: Il colore dei miei capelli è biondo (The color of my hair is blond)
As for the hair LENGTH:
ALLE SPALLE / DI MEDIA LUNGHEZZA (of medium length)
CALVO / PELATO (bald)
Especially for women, there are different WAYS in which to style your hair (HAIRSTYLE):
con FRANGIA (fringe)
con CIUFFO (lock)
TUPPO / CHIGNON (bun)
A CASCHETTO (bob)
The TEXTURE of hair, instead, is:
MOSSI / ONDULATI (wavy)
SOTTILI / SPESSI (thin/thick)
How to describe the COLOR OF THE SKIN
Since it is a thorny subject, it is better for you to stay neutral by using chiara (fair) and scura (dark) for the two extremes and olivastra or mediterranea for “olive-colored“.
How to describe the EYES
There is not much to say… everybody knows the colors (blue, green, grey, brown and black). But there are two more adjectives:
nocciola → hazelnut, fair brown
cervoni → green but with yellow and brown shades
How to describe the NOSE
The nose can be, beyond big and small:
A PATATA (button nose)
SCHIACCIATO (snub nose)
How to describe the LIPS
Lips can just be sottili (thin) or carnose (plump)
How to describe the EARS
They can be big or small or a sventola (poppy-out ears)
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