In Russian there is a jargon word "дрищ" (~ dreeshch) that usually (depending on the context) means either diarrhea or an extremely lean, usually undermuscled person, something like the one on the picture below (not necessarily undermuscled this severely). Is there an analogous word in English?


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    It seems that you're looking for a noun. Is that right? You might stress that, if it's the case. Most of the answers are providing adjectives. – Evan Aug 20 '18 at 13:15
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    Figure out if you are looking for a derogatory word or not. Any comment on appearance in English can be taken badly. Stick to "thin." Medically there are a lot of terms for various cases. – geoO Aug 20 '18 at 13:35
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    The top answers (currently): emaciated or gaunt might be what you are looking for, but both imply a rather temporary state (especially emaciated) - as in the definitions given, they are usually used when someone has been subject to poor conditions and they are now thin as a result. Other options people gave like "scrawny" or "gangly" are more appropriate if this is someone's normal physique. Might be helpful to know in which contexts the Russian word would be appropriate. – Bryan Krause Aug 20 '18 at 19:39

12 Answers 12


A person so underweight might be called emaciated.

emaciated adjective Abnormally thin or weak, especially because of illness or a lack of food. ‘she was so emaciated she could hardly stand’ - ODO

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If the OP is looking for a colloquial equivalent, they could choose between

  • superskinny–(informal) very skinny
  • thin/skinny as a beanpole If you call someone a beanpole, you are criticizing them because you think that they are extremely tall and thin
  • thin as a rake–(BrEng)extremely skinny or slender.
  • thin as a rail–(AmEng)extremely skinny or slender
  • ganglya person, usually a boy or young man, who is very tall and thin and moves awkwardly
  • scrawnyif you describe a person or animal as scrawny, you mean that they look unattractive because they are so thin.
  • be skin and bonesto be extremely thin
  • anorexicsuffering from or relating to anorexia
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  • if we are including similies my favourite, heard in Wales, is "this as a racing snake" – jk. Aug 20 '18 at 16:14
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    I don't think anorexic is a good fit because it refers to a pattern of behavior that may result in emaciation, but not to the state itself. If you look at a photograph of concentration-camp survivors and apply the word "anorexic", you're doing it wrong. – Monty Harder Aug 20 '18 at 16:16
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    The OP did not mention someone suffering from malnutrition, starvation, terminal illness or a disease. Nevertheless, whenever we see an extremely slim person in the street, a stranger who otherwise appears to be healthy, it's a natural impulse to say they look anorexic. It's something that naturally slim/thin people are accustomed to hearing. – Mari-Lou A Aug 20 '18 at 19:08

I've always liked to use the word Gaunt to describe this. The meaning is contextual but it fits pretty well here.

extremely thin and bony; haggard and drawn, as from great hunger, weariness, or torture; emaciated.

Use as an adjective: "He was tall and Gaunt."

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Depending on the context, calling someone a "Twig" might fit. In general. I'd use it in a more or less condescending manner.

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We often call them a "string bean", or a "piece of string".

I wouldn't use emaciated for the guy in the picture because that usually refers to chronic malnourishment as opposed to a gracile build.

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    Also "a beanpole". – GEdgar Aug 20 '18 at 10:37
  • No he is saying emaciated refers to chronic nourishment. Either the post has been edited since your comment or you misread. – WendyG Aug 20 '18 at 13:34

"Skeletal" - Very thin; emaciated.

Used when someone is so thin that you can see the bones which make up their skeleton.

Example usage from the linked dictionary reference:

He is skeletal and scrawny with his minuscule bones poking through his clothes.

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  • Or in obscure internet slang, "a skelton" [sic]. Often in the context of useless advice about how to get physically fit: "stop being a skelton," i.e., eat and work out more. Part of a group of "stop being" memes related to stop being sad. – StackOverthrow Aug 20 '18 at 16:40
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    Also, although not a single word, "bag of bones" – Jammin4CO Aug 20 '18 at 18:50

Since the OP is referring to a "jargon" word, I am going to avoid a regular dictionary and use the Urban Dictionary.

"waif" is an overly skinny person, often having their ribs showing. Often homeless children or super-skinny models are referred to as "waifs".

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Such a person could be called a scrag. That M/W entry also references the term scrawny as noted in another answer.

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If health is not an issue, I would add "beanpole":

noun | bean·pole | \ ˈbēn-ˌpōl

2 : a tall thin person


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  • Please don't just nominate words and then link to copied text. You still have to write your own answer, in your own words, with an explanation of why you think this is a suitable answer to the request. We're trying to build up a library of expert answers for future visitors, and that requires original content not just dictionary spam. Otherwise we're just somebody else’s thesaurus with voting added. – tchrist Aug 24 '18 at 7:20

"Cachectic" is an adjective to describe severe weightloss and musclewasting related to illness. It's called cachexia and is usually associated with chronic and end-stage diseases like cancer.

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  • Very formal/medical but a good one. – Mitch Aug 20 '18 at 17:26

If the person is very tall and also thin then we sometimes refer to them as 'lanky' or 'gangly'.

E.g. Gosh... he's a really lanky guy

**Lanky** adjective, lank·i·er, lank·i·est. ungracefully thin and rawboned; bony; gaunt: a very tall and lanky man. - [Dictionary][1]

If just thin, then they are usually referred to as 'stick thin' or if you are not meaning to be rude then people usually just say 'slender'.

E.g. My friend is very slender.

**Slender** (of a person or part of the body) gracefully thin. - [OOD][1]
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In Jamaican Patois we would say that person is "maga" (Pronounced "maa-ga").

The actual English word is "meager" - (of a person or animal) lean; thin.

In a sentence: Jamaican Patois: "Dat man de maga." English: "That man is meager."

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