Describing a person in German: Words you need to know

Describing a person in German: Words you need to know

by Lea Hauke

Updated September 22, 2023

While we hope that you won’t ever have to give testimony to a crime in Germany, the ability to accurately describe a person in German can still come in handy. Being able to describe physical attributes and personality traits makes communicating with locals easier — and it may even make you some new friends.

Whether you’ve just started to learn German or you want to refresh your memory, here is the most important vocabulary to describe the physical attributes, clothing and character traits of a person in German. 

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How to describe physical attributes in German

Describing a person’s appearance can be a delicate task even in your mother tongue. Kudos to you for trying to do it in German! Because looks can be a sensitive topic for a lot of people, the words you choose matter. Here are some of the words that can help you hit the mark when describing someone’s physical features in German. 

kleinsmall, short
blaue Augenblue eyes
grüne Augengreen eyes
braune Augenbrown eyes
graue Augengray eyes
lange Haarelong hair
kurze Haareshort hair
glatte Haarestraight hair
wellige Haarewavy hair
lockige Haarecurly hair
blonde Haare blonde hair
braune Haarebrown hair
rote Haarered hair
schwarze Haareblack hair

How to describe clothing in German

When describing a person, you may need to talk about what they are wearing. In the following list, we provide an overview of some pieces of clothing and some general characteristics that can help you to capture a person’s style and manner of dress. 

die Sockensocks
die Hosetrousers
der Rockskirt
die Strumpfhosetights
die Leggingsleggings
die Shortsshorts
die Bluseblouse
das Hemdshirt
der Pulloverpullover
das T-Shirt t-shirt
das Tanktoptank top
die Jackejacket
der Mantelcoat

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How to describe personality traits in German

Of course, looks are not all that matter. Being able to describe your landlord’s despicable personality is just as important as being able to praise your partner’s appearance. Here are some of the words that will come in handy when you want to describe personality traits in German. 


German slang words and double meanings

The German words in the tables above are mostly neutral, and you can use the majority in professional and social settings. However, young Germans frequently use other descriptors in casual conversation that can change drastically in their meaning depending on the context. 

For example, if using schön does not suffice to express your excitement for your friend’s new haircut, you could also use geil. Geil means “awesome,” but it was originally used to describe sexual arousal. In order to avoid any misunderstandings, make sure the context leaves no doubt regarding which meaning you intend to express!

The same goes for fett. The expression is commonly used to describe something positive, for example: Die Musik im Club war fett. (“The club’s music was amazing.”) However, fett also means “fat” and is often used as a derogatory term for overweight people. 

Describing a person in German: An important skill

Whether you’re gushing about your new crush or venting about the person who cut you in line today, being able to describe someone is an important skill in any language. When you’re starting to learn German, it’s one of the first things you’ll come across. You’ll soon find that the vocabulary in this article will come in handy when you start forming simple sentences in German. When you’re able to describe physical features and personality traits, you’re already well on your way to answering basic German questions — a big success for anyone learning a new language! 

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Lea Hauke

Lea is a writer and translator for English and German and lives in Austria. Her love for literature is only met by her enthusiasm for music. During her studies in Berlin, she started writing for different music magazines and was the singer and drummer of a punk band. When she completed her Masters in English Literature, she moved to Tyrol, where she started her own business. Since then she has made it her mission to help others to find the right words for their ideas and projects. You can find more information about her on her website and on LinkedIn.

Lea Hauke
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