Physical appearance vocabulary | Phrases & idioms

Physical appearance vocabulary is regularly used in our daily conversations. But how do you describe physical appearance? What words can describe appearance?
In one of the previous lessons, we learned some personality adjectives for talking about people’s personalities. However, we must be able to describe people’s appearance using native collocations and idioms. So, in this lesson, we intend to learn some intermediate and advanced collocations and idioms about people’s appearance.


First, let’s listen to Terry who is describing his family members:


My father has a round face and his paunch really sticks out. My mother has a more oval face and a straight nose. My older sister is like a model. She has a slim figure and a slender waist. She has a lovely complexion and beautiful sleek, shoulder-length hair, and she’s always immaculately groomed. I feel so ordinary next to her – I’ve got coarse hair and rather broad hips, but she always says I look nice.

Now we are going to discover the meaning and the use of these physical appearance words:


Round / oval / wrinkled face:

Example: My grandfather has a round but wrinkled face.

wrinkled face


Lovely / dark / healthy / smooth complexion:

Example: My brother has a healthy complexion because he goes to the gym every day.


Complexion Means: the natural appearance of the skin on a person’s face, especially its color or quality.


Slender waist (Of physical appearance vocabulary):

Meaning: Thin waist in an attractive and graceful way.

Example: My best friend is a model who has a slender waist.

Slender waist



Paunch is also in the list of physical appearance vocabulary which means:

Meaning:  A fat stomach, especially on a man

Example: My uncle is so fat and his paunch sticks out and is obvious.





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Immaculately / well groomed:

Meaning: Completely clean; extremely tidy, having a neat and pleasant appearance that is produced with care.

Example: My brother is a model and is always Immaculately/well groomed.


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Coarse / shoulder – length / straight / dyed / sleek hair:

Example: Despite my sister who has sleek, straight hair my hair is coarse.

coarse hair sleek hair


Slim figure (Of physical appearance words):

These word is also in the list of physical appearance vocabulary that means:

Meaning: Thin figure in an attractive way.

Example: my girlfriend has a slim figure. I highly recommend her to become a model.

Slim figure



Now let’s listen to John who is talking about his family:


My father and my two older brothers are all well-built with broad shoulders. My father is going bald but he still has a very youthful appearance for someone who is over forty. My brothers both have thick hair and bushy eyebrows. My younger brother is only two, but he’s very cute, with chubby cheeks. My mother’s side of the family mostly have dark hair in fact my mother had jet-black hair when she was younger before she went grey but on my father’s side, some have fair hair and some have ginger12 hair.


Now we are going to discover the meaning and the use of the highlighted physical appearance vocabulary.

well-built (Of physical appearance vocabulary):

Meaning: To be in a good shape

Example: My friend is all well-built because he is a sportsman.


Go bald / grey:

To go bald / grey is also in the list of physical appearance vocabulary. This item of physical appearance phrases means:

Meaning: Lose your hair / your hair becomes grey.

Example: My father’s hair is going grey.

Go bald

Jet – black / thick hair (Of physical appearance vocabulary):

Example: when my mother was an adolescent she had Jet-black/thick hair.


Youthful appearance:

Meaning: To look young

Example: My uncle is 40 but has a youthful appearance.


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Chubby cheeks (Of physical appearance vocabulary):

Meaning: Fat cheeks in an attractive way.

Example: my cute niece has chubby cheeks.


Bushy eyebrows:

Bushy eyebrows is a common physical appearance vocabulary which means:

Meaning: Bushy hair or eyebrows are very thick.

Example: My younger brother has surprisingly bushy eyebrows.


Broad shoulders (Of physical appearance vocabulary):

Example: My older brother who has been going to the gym for a long time has broad shoulders.




Now let’s learn some idioms for appearance :

 Idioms about appearance

If you want to say someone is gorgeous or handsome:


Dressed to kill:

This item of idioms about appearance means:

Meaning: Wearing very smart or fashionable clothes in order to be noticed and admired

Example:  Mani arrived at the party dressed to kill.


To look like a million dollars:

Meaning: To look extremely attractive and well-dressed

Example: Every couple wants to look a million dollars on their wedding day.


Dressed (up) to the nines:

Dressed up to the nines is a common idiom for appearance which means:

Meaning: To be wearing fashionable or formal clothes for a special event.

Example: She always goes out dressed to the nines.


It’s time to learn some advanced idioms related to appearance:

Be the spitting image of someone / be the spit:

Meaning: Be identical to someone.

Example: “You’re the spitting image of your mother!”

He’s the spit of his father.


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Like peas in a pod (Of idioms for appearance):

Meaning: be very similar

Example: The two sisters are like peas in a pod.


Like chalk and cheese / bear no resemblance to:

Meaning: Not be similar at all

Example: Surprisingly the twins are like chalk and cheese.

Example: He bears no resemblance to his father at all.


Have a good dress sense / have a sense of style:

This item of physical appearance vocabulary means:

Meaning: to know what clothes to wear

Example: His wife has very good dress sense. She always looks great.


Put​ your face on (Of idioms about appearance):

Meaning: Apply make-up to your face

Example: It’s nine o’clock already and I haven’t even put my face on.


Finally, we are going to put these advanced idioms for appearance into practice:

A: Did you see Jenny at the party last night?

B: Yeah! She came into the house dressed to kill. She was the spitting image of her older sister, Elizabeth

A: I don’t think so. She definitely looked like a million dollars but Elizabeth and she are like chalk and cheese. I think they bear no striking resemblance.

B: No! both of them have a good sense of dress and are immaculately groomed most of the time.

A: It might be the case, but they have different complexions and body shapes! Besides Jenny puts her face on too much!

In this article, we discussed physical appearance and its common idioms and phrases. If you want to level up your English level, you should expand your vocabulary. But aside from vocabulary, you should know how to use these words in sentences correctly. In other words, you should know how to learn English grammar in the best way.

By reading the POC English website’s articles, you will be able to take your English to the next level! Read these articles carefully, take notes, take our general English course, and see the results!


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