The most intuitive word to describe a person rich in fat seems to be fatty. However, I'm not sure whether it's commonly used in a derogatory sense in English. Do I need a more appropriate word instead?

I would like the most common term to use in an everyday situation. For example, to tell a person from a group of people:

Tom: Who is Jack?
Jerry: The [fat/fatty/obese/...] guy over there.

Is calling someone fatty OK?

  • 2
    "Fatty", when used to describe a person, is a noun which means "a fat person". It is very derogatory, as it is a "schoolyard" term. Simply saying "a fat person" is slightly less derogatory. "Obese" is an adjective (and the medical term) that is somewhat more "neutral" (if any such term can be "neutral"). – Hot Licks Nov 27 '15 at 4:09
  • (Of course if you simply mean a female who has some well-placed fat deposits in all the "right" places, there are a host of different terms for that.) – Hot Licks Nov 27 '15 at 4:11
  • Thank you, @HotLicks. I think obese may be too formal but it looks like fatty is even worse. I just added a use case. Is fat the best choice here? BTW, the urban sense of fatty has outgrown my English level... – Cyker Nov 27 '15 at 4:44
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    As mentioned, "fatty" is not used as an adjective when describing people. The adjective is "fat." Commenting on someone's weight to identify them is unlikely to come across as appropriate no matter how you phrase it, but if you do it anyway, it's safest to use a euphemism (although euphemisms may also annoy some people) or as Cargill suggests, simply the word "big" (assuming the person is not noticeably short). It's better to identify people using things like hair color, presence or absence of a beard, shirt color, or other clothing details. – herisson Nov 27 '15 at 4:46
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    Even though “the fat guy over there” is the easiest, clearest identification one often finds oneself saying, “the guy just to the right of the girl in the bright pink dress.” “Oh, you mean the fat guy?’. “Yeah.” – Jim Nov 27 '15 at 5:26

Fatty is a taunt thrown at a fat person, just like fatso. Reserve the word for biological and medical terms: fatty tissue, fatty acid, fatty liver.

Not to be confused with the slang usage, also spelled fattie, a marijuana cigaret, as in

Don't bogart that fattie; pass it along.


Do I need a more appropriate word instead?

Difficult to answer without knowing the context in which you need a word for such a person.

(But after your edit, the least derogatory word for that situation is probably "big").

And "fatty" is not only derogatory, it is also infantile-schoolyard in almost all respects, outside medicine / chemistry.

  • A "big" thank you for this. Just a question: If one person has a greater width while the other one has a great height, will the listener understand "big" correctly in this case? – Cyker Nov 27 '15 at 4:51
  • If there is a big wide person and a big high person to distinguish between the big-high guy would usually be called "tall". – Cargill Nov 27 '15 at 5:01
  • Certainly I'd use "tall" if I mean the big high person. But if unfortunately I mean the big wide person, do you expect a need to quote your answer in case the listener tells me "they both look big"? – Cyker Nov 27 '15 at 5:07

As mentioned by others, fatty is an insulting term:

fatty: an insulting word for someone who is fat

(Macmillan Dictionary)

I would suggest big guy (mentioned by Cargill), large guy, or heavy guy instead.


Dictionary link for fatty (courtesy of dicitonary.reference.com)

  • Fatty can be used as a noun for a fat person
  • Fatty as an adjective is used to describe meat, but not people
  • To describe a person, the equivalent adjective is fat. However, this would usually be taken as derogatory or insulting.
  • Overweight is less insulting, but people still don't want to be called it
  • Large is an ok choice, in that it is less likely to offend... but people still don't want to be called it!
  • 1
    As an adjective fatty can be used for any food which is oily, greasy, or particularly high in fat. It's not only meat. Fatty I would say is used as an epithet towards someone you might know, rather than a plain noun. "I saw a large man across the street" vs. "I saw F/fatty across the street" (I know this person, that's my nickname for him) vs. " I saw a fatty across the street" (any person of either sex who is overweight) – Mari-Lou A Nov 28 '15 at 6:14

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