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thin ~ slim ~ slender ~ delicate

[different pronunciation]

These four words in this set can be synonymous with one another (i.e. giving almost similar meaning in some contexts); however, there are some subtle differences in their general usage.  Therefore, it is best for us to know them well before ever using them.

Thin”, as an adjective & with ‘thick’ as the opposite word in meaning, means ‘(of something) having small distance between the opposite sides or surfaces; (of a person or animal) not having much flesh and fat, usually used in negative sense /connotation/ or disapprovingly; (of something) not much in quality; (of a liquid) flows easily, looks more transparent, does not stick because it has lot of water in it; (of an excuse, argument, evidence) not good or enough for a particular purpose’; as an adverb, it is ‘in a thin way {most grammarians feel that using ‘thin’ as an adverb is not correct or not good English}’; as a verb ~~~  thin – thinned – thinned – thinning, it is ‘to become fewer in number and less in quality or quantity, especially when there were more before; to make a liquid weak by adding water or some other liquid to it’,

[‘Thin’ with people and some things denote negative sense /connotation/.]

a very thin woman


She eats only two thin slices of bread for breakfast.   (‘thin’ – adjective)

Slice the apples thin and mix them with cream.    (‘thin’ – adverb)

By the time the police arrived, the protesters had thinned out.   (‘thin’ – verb)

You can thin the sauce by adding some milk.   (‘ can thin’ – verb)


Slim”, as an adjective, is ‘(of a person) having attractive body without any extra fat or flesh, in a that is attractive {in this sense ‘slim’ is synonymous with “slender”}; (of a chance, possibility) not as big as one would expect or like; very small in amount or number, usually used in negative sense’; as a verb ~~~ slim – slimmed – slimmed – slimming, it is‘to make one’s body thinner by eating less and/or taking some physical exercise regularly; to make or become small in size or number’,

[With people and some things, ‘slim’ denotes positive sense /connotation.]

slim laptop models


She was all a man wants — tall, slim, and blond … but what about the character?

She has such a slim body that she can go for some high profile modelling.

There’s only a slim chance of his winning the race.

Take only thin slices of brown bread or lean meat when you want to slim down.

The staff has been slimmed down from twenty-eight clerks to twenty.


Slender” (adjective) means ‘(of a person or plant) slim, i.e. thin in an attractive way; very small in amount and/or size’,

a slender branch/twig of a plant


He is very proud of his slender and fashionable girlfriend.

Countries like India must learn to make the most of their slender resources.   [i.e. their limited resources]


Delicate” (adjective) means ‘(of a person, situation, matter) needing to be handled carefully or sensibly because they are easily hurt, broken or damaged; soft, smooth, attractive and graceful; (of a person’s or animal’s health) becomes ill easily; (of things) made with great care and attention, giving importance to even the smallest or simplest details; (of taste, smell, colour, etc.) pleasant, light’,

delicate petals of a rose


Personal matters are mostly delicate; you don’t discuss them in public.

The baby’s skin is very delicate; don’t use any strong soap.

The ballet dance movements are delicate and slow; the tap dance movements, on the other hand, are quick and energetic.

She wore a delicate pink blouse.

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About the Author:BC Kumar

BC Kumar, an English Language Teacher, taught in numerous countries including Ethiopia, Oman and India, shares his knowledge and passion for the English Language. Disclaimer: This is a free educational website and all content has been compiled by the author. All copyrights to images and videos belong to their respective owners.

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