Which sentence below is right? If both, are there any differences?

Wolves have pointed faces.
Wolves have pointy faces.

The definitions of each are very similar:

Pointy: Having a pointed tip or end.
Actually, I'd like several goats, with big floppy ears and pointy beards and soulful expressions.

Pointed: Having a sharpened or tapered tip or end.
‘his face tapers to a pointed chin’

  • 1
    We expect people to do a bit of research before asking a question: if that research doesn't answer your question, please update your question to add details of your research, and explain exactly what you still find confusing. In this case, you could look both words up in a good dictionary, like this one: dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/pointy – JavaLatte Jan 26 at 5:45
  • JavaLatte is quite right. Your research might include NGram. Another example of our increasing fondness for cute or childish words is crisp/crispy – Old Brixtonian Jan 26 at 9:03

The main difference in your example is that “pointy” is informal and “pointed” is not. There’s also a difference in how you form the comparative for each word.

For “pointed”, we would write “more pointed” or “most pointed”. For “pointy”, we would write “pointier” or “pointiest”.

As alluded to by @OldBrixtonian, in some situations using “pointy” instead of “pointed” can sound like you’re writing for children. It can also be used in a lighthearted, informal way among adults, but if you want a serious tone, you would use “pointed”.


X is pointy if it has the following attribute: one or more points.

We don't care where the points are pointing to, or how many points, etc. This usually implies the points are short.

X is pointed if X is functioning as an arrow and either pointing to something, or capable of the same.

Wolves have pointed faces.

The overall shape of a wolf face is a triangle, and you can point it in a direction like an arrow.

Wolves have pointy faces.

This can sound like you're saying wolves have spines or spikes on their face. Sea urchins are pointy, but not wolf faces. A child might say this after seeing cartoon drawings of wolves which may be reduced to simple literal triangles, or if the context is reductionist such as an artist trying to understand the basic shape of things.

  • I don’t agree that “pointy” implies more than one point in common usage. What about Never again will I have to stop shooting for half an hour while some extra in row 178 has his pointy ear glued back on. A pointy ear like a Vulcan’s has one point. If you said “spiky” or “spiked” I would think of multiple points. – ColleenV Jan 26 at 20:33

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