short on looks: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘short on looks’ mean?

The idiom short on looks means lacking physical attractiveness or being unattractive in appearance.

Idiom Explorer


The idiom "short on looks" is a colloquial expression commonly used in American English. It refers to someone who lacks physical attractiveness or is not considered appealing in terms of their appearance. The phrase implies a deficiency or scarcity in physical beauty. It is often used to describe individuals who are not considered particularly attractive.

This idiom is widely used in informal contexts, especially when discussing someone's appearance. It is a straightforward and direct way of conveying the notion that someone is not conventionally good-looking. The idiom is subjective, as beauty varies from person to person. It conveys that the person being referred to does not possess the desired level of physical attractiveness as perceived by the speaker or society at large.

The origin of the idiom "short on looks" is not explicitly documented. However, it likely originated from the combination of the expressions "short" and "looks". "Short" denotes a lack or scarcity of something, while "looks" pertains to one's physical appearance. When combined, the phrase suggests a deficiency or inadequacy in physical attractiveness. It is a concise and vivid way of expressing the idea that someone lacks appealing physical features.

The idiom "short on looks" is commonly used in everyday language, particularly in informal settings. It effectively describes someone's lack of physical attractiveness in colloquial conversations. While it may carry a negative connotation, it is important to recognize that beauty is subjective and varies from person to person. Therefore, it is crucial to approach the use of this idiom with sensitivity and respect for individual differences.

The phrase "short of a length" is another idiom related to "short on looks". It is commonly used in cricket to describe a delivery that falls just short of the ideal length for a batsman to hit. In cricket, bowlers aim to deliver the ball at a length that is difficult for the batsman to play shots comfortably. When a delivery is "short of a length", it means it didn't reach the intended distance, and the batsman may find it easier to play.

The idiom "short of a length" is figurative and can be used in a broader sense outside of cricket. It can describe a situation where something falls short of the desired or expected outcome. For example, if someone's performance in a meeting was lacking or didn't meet the expectations, you can say that their contribution was "short of a length". This idiom emphasizes a deficiency or inadequacy in reaching a certain level or standard.

She has a captivating and alluring appearance.

Now, let's explore the idiom "hard on the eyes" in relation to "short on looks". "Hard on the eyes" is a phrase used to express that something or someone is visually unattractive or unpleasant to look at. It can be used to refer to physical appearance, but also to objects, colors, or even certain environments that are visually displeasing.

When we say that someone who is "short on looks" is "hard on the eyes", we are emphasizing their unattractiveness in a more vivid or direct way. The idiom "hard on the eyes" adds an extra layer of negative connotation to the description of someone's appearance, implying that it is particularly unappealing or visually displeasing.

Now let's move on to the idiom "good looker". This idiom is used to describe someone who is physically attractive or pleasant to look at. When comparing someone who is "short on looks" to a "good looker", we are highlighting the stark contrast in their physical attractiveness.

The idiom "good looker" conveys a positive connotation, suggesting that the person being described is visually appealing or attractive. On the other hand, someone who is "short on looks" is seen as lacking in physical attractiveness. Comparing these two idioms provides a clear distinction between someone who is considered conventionally attractive and someone who is not.

Now let's discuss the idiom "look like" in relation to someone who is "short on looks". "Look like" is a common phrase used to compare someone's physical appearance to that of another person or thing. When using "look like" in the context of someone who is "short on looks", we are emphasizing the disparity between their appearance and that of someone who is conventionally attractive.

Using "look like" in this way highlights the difference in physical features and attractiveness between the two individuals being compared. It is a straightforward and commonly used phrase to convey the idea that someone does not resemble or have the same level of physical attractiveness as another person.

Finally, let's examine the idiom "easy on the eyes" in relation to someone who is "short on looks". "Easy on the eyes" is an idiom used to describe someone or something that is visually pleasing or attractive to look at. It can be used to describe physical appearances, but also extends to objects, environments, or any visual stimuli that are aesthetically pleasing.

When comparing someone who is "short on looks" to something or someone that is "easy on the eyes", we are highlighting the considerable difference in their visual appeal. The idiom "easy on the eyes" emphasizes the attractiveness of the person or thing being described, contrasting with the lack of physical attractiveness associated with someone who is "short on looks".

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "short on looks" can be used in a sentence:

  1. She may be short on looks, but she has an incredible personality.
  2. We hired him for his skills, as he is definitely short on looks.
  3. He's not the most attractive person, but he is not short on looks when it comes to confidence.

More "Appearance" idioms