‘Thick’ or 'Fat' or ‘Chubby': What's the Difference Between Them?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on June 6, 2023

Are you confused about the difference between 'thick' or 'fat' or 'chubby?' If so, this guide will help to clarify the three similar terms.

Here is the quick answer: 

  • 'Thick,' 'fat,' and 'chubby' are all terms used to describe a person's physique. 
  • 'Thick' means that someone isn't skinny. 
  • 'Fat' is an adjective that implies someone is overweight or has excessive body fat. 
  • 'Chubby' can be a way of calling someone 'fat' or describing someone who could lose a few pounds but isn't overweight.

While that is the short version, you should read this guide with definitions, usage tips, and examples entirely because misusing the terms is likely to offend or hurt someone.

 What is the Difference Between 'Thick' or 'Fat' or 'Chubby?'

As mentioned above, people use these words to describe someone's body type, usually a woman's. Some people use them interchangeably.

  • Someone might call someone in great shape but with a big butt and thighs 'thick.' A lot of people think being called 'thick' is a compliment. It doesn't mean they are obese or overweight.
  • 'Chubby,' on the other hand, implies that someone has a few pounds to lose or is on the plumper side.
  • 'Fat' is a name people call someone that is overweight or has a lot of extra fat on their frame.

When to Use 'Thick' or 'Fat' or 'Chubby'

If you are trying to decide which of these terms you will use, consider it seriously. All three are thought of as derogatory by many people.

So, how do you know how and when to use them?

  • Use 'thick' to describe someone curvy but not obese.

For example, you might hear someone say:

    • You are gorgeous, thick, and intelligent. I am not letting you get away!
  • Use 'thick' to describe someone gaining muscle.

As an example, a friend might tell you:

    • I can tell you have been working out. You've put on muscle, and you are thicker. 
  • Use 'chubby' to describe a plump baby or cute animal.

For example, you could say:

    • That photographer takes adorable photographs of chubby toddlers and puppies. 
  • Use 'fat' when referring to the fat in something.

For example, you might hear someone say:

    • I tried to order something healthy, but after I added the salad dressing, it had more fat than a cheeseburger. 

NOTE: These terms are rarely received well. So, it is a good idea to use them with caution. Of the three, 'thick' does not have the same negative connotation as 'fat' and 'chubby.'

Definition of 'Thick': What Does 'Thick' Mean?

When people call someone 'thick,' they use the term as slang. However, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the official definition of 'thick' is an adjective meaning:

  • Being of great depth or extent between sides

It can also mean:

  • Wide
  • Packed closely
  • Tight or chummy
  • Heavy haze, smoke, or fog
  • Unable to see through
  • Evident
  • Closely connected
  • Being outside the bounds of appropriate

It can also be an adverb meaning:

  • To do something in a 'thick' manner

'Thick' can also be a noun meaning:

  • A crowded or active area
  • The thickest part

Synonyms of 'Thick'

  • Fat
  • Chunky
  • Broad
  • Hefty
  • Bulky
  • Deep
  • Thickish

Definition of 'Fat': What Does 'Fat' Mean?

The same dictionary defines 'fat' as an adjective that means:

  • Having visible an excessive amount of body fat

It can also mean:

  • Pudgy
  • Plump
  • Filled out
  • Having a good tone and quality
  • Wealthy and prosperous
  • Profitable or rewarding
  • Being substantial and impressive

'Fat' can also be a verb meaning:

  • To fatten something

And, 'fat' is a noun that means:

  • Greasy or oily animal matter
  • Obesity
  • The best part of something
  • Excessiveness

Synonyms of 'Fat'

  • Best
  • Royal
  • Elite
  • Superior
  • Nutritious
  • Prime
  • Choice
  • Top shelf
  • Caviare
  • Nobility

Definition of 'Chubby': What Does 'Chubby' Mean?

Finally, 'chubby' is an adjective that means:

  • Plump

Synonyms of 'Chubby'

  • Plump
  • Pudgy
  • Overweight
  • Round
  • Thick
  • Corpulent
  • Tubby
  • Hefty
  • Stout
  • Portly
  • Blubbery
  • Heavy
  • Heavtset
  • Thickset
  • Ample

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Thick' or 'Fat' or 'Chubby'

Let's look at pronunciation now. Pay close attention because learning to pronounce terms correctly helps you build confidence and become a better conversationalist and writer.

So, here is a pronunciation guide:

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'thick':


  • You can use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'fat':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'chubby':


Sample Sentences Using 'Thick' or 'Fat' or 'Chubby'

Before you go, read the sample sentences below. They show different ways you can use these three terms.


  • I have been working out for the past year. I was always skinny, but now I am thick and curvy.
  • He told his girlfriend she was thick, and she didn't take it well. It has been a week, and she still won't speak to him.
  • Everyone wanted the thick girl on their team. They knew her muscular legs and thighs would be an advantage.


  • Being fat makes it harder to do everything.
  • Do you think I look fat in this dress? I can't decide.
  • I was fat when I was younger but grew out of it, as many young people do.


  • That adorable chubby bunny rabbit comes here to eat every couple of weeks.
  • I felt chubby after I ate three plates of Thanksgiving dinner.
  • If you think you are chubby and need to lose a couple of pounds, we should go for a walk every evening.


  • Many say they like thick or even chubby partners but not necessarily 'fat' ones.

The Last Word on 'Thick' or 'Fat' or 'Chubby'

The next time you have to define 'thick' or 'fat' or 'chubby,' you should have no problem, but here is a quick recap: 

  • People use 'thick' to call someone fat, but they also say that someone is curvy and voluptuous but not necessarily 'fat.'
  • 'Fat' means someone or something has excessive fat or is overweight. 
  • 'Chubby' means that someone could lose a few pounds but is not necessarily obese.

When using any of these words, consider your message carefully because these terms can be hurtful.

If you want to learn about other commonly misspelled, mispronounced, and misused English terms, check out the guides in the confusing words section.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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