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I have a toy bunny which is about the size of a thumb, I don't have it with me right now and I want to let my friend imagine its size with my hands.

Is it correct to say "The toy bunny is about this big" or "The toy bunny is about this small"?

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Normally you would say "big". You might say "It is small, about this big". You could say "it is about this small" if you wanted to be ironic about the size. You sometimes hear people say things like "I'm 40 years young" rather than "40 years old" for this reason.

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    As you say, native Anglophones rarely say something is "this small". But in contexts where we want to call attention to "smallness" rather than "bigness", we can often achieve that by saying something is only this big. Offhand I can't think of any other "antonymous adjective pair" with such a pronounced preference for only using one of the terms in such "comparative" contexts. Aug 22 '21 at 17:11
  • John is 50, and Jane is about that old as well. But even if John was only 5, I'm not convinced many native Anglophones would consider saying ...Jane is about that young as well. Aug 22 '21 at 17:19
  • I think tall and short would work similarly; maybe heavy and light too. Aug 22 '21 at 18:00
  • We don't ask how short someone is unless we've been told s/he's short! Likewise with light, young and small. Size seems to mean bigness, age: oldness, weight: heaviness etc. Maybe on a low-gravity planet we'd be more concerned about each other's lightness! Aug 22 '21 at 18:25
  • You could say your bunny is only about this big. Aug 22 '21 at 18:27

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