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I know you can and, usually, do simply say 'tall' or 'short'. But what if I want to say it differently: 'of [some word] stature'. What adjectives should I use to make it sound idiomatic? 'Short'/'tall'? 'Low'/'high'?

  • That's a challenge, at least in the spoken sense, because 'stature' is not used much any more. It is slightly higher diction than tall/short. Of course you can get away with higher diction in writing and it does occur there. 'in' and 'of' are often used with a modifer before or after, as in 'small in stature.' Again, it's a bit more ponderous but it can be done - 'short in stature', 'diminutive in stature', 'of great stature', etc. – user114352 May 6 at 20:41
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Although this might be somewhat subjective, I think the following all sound the most idiomatic when paired with stature:

He is of small stature.
She is of medium stature.
They are of large stature.


With respect to its figurative use, the following is an example sentence from Merriam-Webster's definition of stature (different emphasis mine):

a man of surprisingly great stature.

On the other end of the scale (although it works both literally as well as figuratively) is:

You are of diminutive stature.


To explicitly address a comment, I would not short stature.

For example:

He is of short stature.

→ He is short.
→ He is of small stature.

In fact, I would probably go with the simpler he is short. I don't see a real reason to use an of statue construction when discussing height, since the other is more succinct and common.

However, if I did use stature, I think that small works better with it in this context.

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  • 'Short'? What d'you think? – Sergey Zolotarev May 7 at 11:56
  • I don't like short as much as I do small when it comes to pairing something with stature. If you were to use the word short (or tall) you could just leave out stature altogether—it doesn't add anything. I have updated my answer. – Jason Bassford May 7 at 13:18
  • You see, the problem with 'small' is that it makes the phrase unnecessarily ambiguous: is it about someone's height or importance? I want it to be clear that it's about height – Sergey Zolotarev May 7 at 23:25
  • @SergeyZolotarev That's exactly why I wouldn't use stature at all. If you're talking about their height, simply say He is short. It doesn't get much clearer than that. (Even short stature could cause confusion.) – Jason Bassford May 7 at 23:34
  • Why? You don't describe someone's importance as "short" – Sergey Zolotarev May 8 at 11:35
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This is something where Google's Ngram Viewer can help; searching for of * stature gives you the most common combinations:

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Of course, you need to view the actual search results to view if they match your description. That seems to be the case for

  • of small stature

    LITTLE GREAT MEN. IT is a remarkable thing that some of the greatest men in history have been of small stature. Certainly, from all experience, height of person has no influence on the mental faculties.

  • of great stature

    Achilles was of great beauty, black Hairs and crispe, grey Eyes and great, of amiable sight, large Breasts, broad shoulders, great Arms, his Reins high enough, a man of great stature, and had none like unto him among all the Greeks

    There was yet a battle in Gath, says the Bible, where a man of great stature appeared, that had on each hand six fingers, and on each foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was the son of the giant (Ibid.).

short stature seems to be used more in medical studies, which may not be what you're after.

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