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Can we say 'chubby' about adult people? Would it have a positive or negative meaning?

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  • Can you tell us a bit more about your question, such as explain what you mean by "chubby" and why you want to know if this is an appropriate thing to say to adults? Apr 9 '20 at 12:06
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Yes, you can say chubby about a person of any age, though it is more frequently used of younger people.

It is mildly rude, but less so than fat, and it is much friendlier than obese which is a much more clinical expression.

Your sub-question about whether it is positive or negative is not really relevant - it is a description, and as such can be used in either positive or negative contexts - it is the intent of the speaker that matters, not the word itself. For example, (particularly in areas where poverty is common), describing a baby as chubby would be a good thing - the obvious comparison is with skinny which would be a sign of malnourishment. In an adult, in a rich country, quite the opposite is true.

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  • it is the intent of the speaker that matters, not the word itself. Unfortunately not. There's the famous case of a university professor who was explaining how Chaucer used the word "niggardly" and inadvertently offended a student. "I was in tears, shaking," [the student] told the faculty. "It's not up to the rest of the class to decide whether my feelings are valid."
    – CJ Dennis
    Apr 10 '20 at 1:17
  • @CJDennis I disagree. The majority of both Scots and English Law is indeed based around the concept of intent, hence the difference between Murder and Manslaughter. At the opposite end of the scale, it is common practice amongst the British armed forces to greet each other along the lines of: How's it going, ya <expletive>? This is a friendly greeting, despite the language. Apr 14 '20 at 9:05
  • The point is the other officer doesn't get offended. I think people are too sensitive nowadays and some people will be offended no matter what your intent was. With manslaughter and murder, they're both punishable. I think unintentional offense should be apologised for but not punished for.
    – CJ Dennis
    Apr 14 '20 at 11:08
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No.

There is no law about using the word chubby. It means "plump and rounded". But if you need to ask about a word, then you know that you probably shouldn't use it about a person.

Calling someone "chubby" would be insulting. As a general rule, don't comment on other people's weight.

Most people would not like to be called chubby.

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  • Men who prefer rounded women are sometimes called 'chubby chasers' in the USA. Apr 9 '20 at 17:31
  • More reason not to use "chubby"
    – James K
    Apr 9 '20 at 17:41
  • Well, yes. Exactly. Apr 9 '20 at 17:50
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    Calling someone "chubby" would be insulting. As a general rule, don't comment on other people's weight.
    – SarahT
    Apr 9 '20 at 17:59

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