High vs. Tall: What's the Difference?
"High" refers to elevation or position, while "tall" describes the height of an object or person relative to its base.
High and tall are adjectives frequently used to denote vertical measurements.
"High" primarily addresses the elevation or altitude of something, often in relation to a broader context. For instance, a mountain is high because it has significant elevation above sea level. Conversely, "tall" specifically focuses on the height of an entity from its base to its top.
A person is considered tall based on their stature from feet to head. Additionally, high can be used in abstract or qualitative contexts, such as high standards or high quality. On the other hand, tall rarely ventures beyond the quantitative measurement of height. In some contexts, the usage of these words can be interchangeable, like a "high tower" or a "tall tower", but their nuances distinguish their applications.
While both words describe vertical measurements, "high" has broader implications, whereas "tall" primarily focuses on physical stature.
Elevation or position
Height from base to top
Can be relative to surroundings
Can be abstract (e.g., high hopes)
Sometimes (e.g., high building/tall building)
Less so outside of physical descriptions
Broader applications (e.g., high speed, high volume)
Primarily deals with stature
High and Tall Definitions
Elevated above ground or a given level.
The plane flew high in the sky.
Standing out above others.
The tall building overshadowed its neighbors.
Superior in quality or character.
She has high standards.
Ambitious or idealistic.
She has tall dreams.
In a state of euphoria, often due to drugs.
He felt high after taking the medication.
Having greater height than usual or average.
He is a tall man.
Having a relatively great elevation; extending far upward
A high mountain.
A high tower.
Exaggerated or hard to believe.
That's a tall tale!
Extending a specified distance upward
A cabinet ten feet high.
Extended in a vertical direction.
The tree grew tall over the years.
Far or farther from a reference point
Was too high in the offensive zone to take a shot.
Having greater than ordinary height
A tall woman.
Being at or near the peak or culminating stage
The high tourist season.
Having considerable height, especially in relation to width; lofty
Advanced in development or complexity
High forms of animal life.
Having a specified height
A plant three feet tall.
Far removed in time; remote
(Informal) Fanciful or exaggerated; boastful
Tall tales of heroic exploits.
Slightly spoiled or tainted; gamy. Used of meat.
Impressively great or difficult
A tall order to fill.
Having a bad smell; malodorous.
(Obsolete) Excellent; fine.
Having a pitch corresponding to a relatively large number of sound-wave cycles per second
The high tones of a flute.
With proud bearing; straight
Raised in pitch; not soft or hushed
A high voice.
(of a person) Having a vertical extent greater than the average. For example, somebody with a height of over 6 feet would generally be considered to be tall.
Being tall is an advantage in basketball.
Situated relatively far from the equator
A high latitude.
(of a building, etc.) Having its top a long way up; having a great vertical (and often greater than horizontal) extent; high.
Of great importance
Set a high priority on funding the housing program.
(of a story) Hard to believe, such as a tall story or a tall tale.
Eminent in rank or status
A high official.
Smaller than grande, usually 8 ounces (~ 230 ml).
High crimes and misdemeanors.
(obsolete) Obsequious; obedient.
Constituting a climax; crucial
The chase scene is the high point of the film.
(obsolete) Seemly; suitable; fitting, becoming, comely; attractive, handsome.
Characterized by lofty or stirring events or themes
(obsolete) Bold; brave; courageous; valiant.
Lofty or exalted in quality or character
A person of high morals.
(archaic) Fine; proper; admirable; great; excellent.
Greater than usual or expected, as in quantity, magnitude, cost, or degree
“A high price has to be paid for the happy marriage with the four healthy children” (Doris Lessing).
Someone or something that is tall.
He has a high opinion of himself.
A clothing size for taller people.
Do you have this in a tall?
Of great force or violence
A tall serving of a drink, especially one from Starbucks, which contains 12 ounces.
(Informal) Excited or euphoric
High in stature; having a considerable, or an unusual, extension upward; long and comparatively slender; having the diameter or lateral extent small in proportion to the height; as, a tall person, tree, or mast.
Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall.
(Slang) Intoxicated by alcohol or a drug, such as cocaine or marijuana.
Brave; bold; courageous.
As tall a trenchermanAs e'er demolished a pye fortification.
His companions, being almost in despair of victory, were suddenly recomforted by Sir William Stanley, which came to succors with three thousand tall men.
Fine; splendid; excellent; also, extravagant; excessive.
(Linguistics) Of or relating to vowels produced with part of the tongue close to the palate, as in the vowel of tree.
Great in vertical dimension; high in stature;
Of, relating to, or being the gear configuration or setting, as in an automotive transmission, that produces the greatest vehicular speed with respect to engine speed.
Lofty in style;
He engages in so much tall talk, one never really realizes what he is saying
At, in, or to a lofty position, level, or degree
Saw a plane flying high in the sky.
Prices that had gone too high.
A tall order
In an extravagant or luxurious way
Made a fortune and lived high.
Too improbable to admit of belief;
A tall story
A lofty place or region.
A high level or degree
Summer temperatures reached an all-time high.
The high gear configuration of a transmission.
A center of high atmospheric pressure; an anticyclone.
(Informal) An excited or euphoric condition
The team was on a high after winning in overtime.
(Slang) An intoxicated or euphoric condition induced by alcohol or a drug.
Physically elevated, extending above a base or average level:
Very elevated; extending or being far above a base; tall; lofty.
The balloon rose high in the sky.
The wall was high.
A high mountain
Relatively elevated; rising or raised above the average or normal level from which elevation is measured.
Above the batter's shoulders.
The pitch (or: the ball) was high
Pertaining to (or, especially of a language: spoken in) in an area which is at a greater elevation, for example more mountainous, than other regions.
Having a specified elevation or height; tall.
Three feet high
Three Mount Everests high
Elevated in status, esteem, or prestige, or in importance or development; exalted in rank, station, or character.
The oldest of the elves' royal family still conversed in High Elvish.
Most exalted; foremost.
The high priest, the high officials of the court, the high altar
Of great importance and consequence: grave (if negative) or solemn (if positive).
High crimes, the high festival of the sun
Consummate; advanced (e.g. in development) to the utmost extent or culmination, or possessing a quality in its supreme degree, at its zenith.
High (i.e. intense) heat; high (i.e. full or quite) noon; high (i.e. rich or spicy) seasoning; high (i.e. complete) pleasure; high (i.e. deep or vivid) colour; high (i.e. extensive, thorough) scholarship; high tide; high [tourism] season; the High Middle Ages
Advanced in complexity (and hence potentially abstract and/or difficult to comprehend).
(in several set phrases) Very traditionalist and conservative, especially in favoring older ways of doing things; see e.g. high church, High Tory.
Elevated in mood; marked by great merriment, excitement, etc.
In high spirits
(of a lifestyle) Luxurious; rich.
High living, the high life
Lofty, often to the point of arrogant, haughty, boastful, proud.
A high tone
(with "on" or "about") Keen, enthused.
With tall waves.
Remote (to the north or south) from the equator; situated at (or constituting) a latitude which is expressed by a large number.
High latitude, fish species in high arctic and antarctic areas
Large, great (in amount or quantity, value, force, energy, etc).
My bank charges me a high interest rate.
I was running a high temperature and had high cholesterol.
A high number
Having a large or comparatively larger concentration of (a substance, which is often but not always linked by "in" when predicative).
Carrots are high in vitamin A.
Made from a high-copper alloy
(acoustics) Acute or shrill in pitch, due to being of greater frequency, i.e. produced by more rapid vibrations (wave oscillations).
The note was too high for her to sing.
(phonetics) Made with some part of the tongue positioned high in the mouth, relatively close to the palate.
(card games) Greater in value than other cards, denominations, suits, etc.
(poker) Having the highest rank in a straight, flush or straight flush.
I have KT742 of the same suit. In other words, a K-high flush.
= 98765 unsuited
= AKQJT suited = A-high straight flush
(of a card or hand) Winning; able to take a trick, win a round, etc.
North's hand was high. East was in trouble.
Strong-scented; slightly tainted/spoiled; beginning to decompose.
Epicures do not cook game before it is high.
The tailor liked his meat high.
(informal) intoxicated; under the influence of a mood-altering drug, formerly usually alcohol, but now (from the mid-20th century) usually not alcohol but rather marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc.
Near, in its direction of travel, to the (direction of the) wind.
Positioned up the field, towards the opposing team's goal.
Our defensive line is too high.
In or to an elevated position.
How high above land did you fly?
The desks were piled high with magazines.
In or at a great value.
Costs have grown higher this year again.
At a pitch of great frequency.
I certainly can't sing that high.
A high point or position, literally (as, an elevated place; a superior region; a height; the sky; heaven).or figuratively (as, a point of success or achievement; a time when things are at their best, greatest, most numerous, maximum, etc).
It was one of the highs of his career.
Inflation reached a ten-year high.
The maximum atmospheric temperature recorded at a particular location, especially during one 24-hour period.
Today's high was 32 °C.
A period of euphoria, from excitement or from an intake of drugs.
That pill gave me a high for a few hours, before I had a comedown.
A drug that gives such a high.
A large area of elevated atmospheric pressure; an anticyclone.
A large high is centred on the Azores.
(card games) The highest card dealt or drawn.
(obsolete) Thought; intention; determination; purpose.
(obsolete) To rise.
The sun higheth.
To hie; to hasten.
Men must high them apace, and make haste.
To rise; as, the sun higheth.
Elevated above any starting point of measurement, as a line, or surface; having altitude; lifted up; raised or extended in the direction of the zenith; lofty; tall; as, a high mountain, tower, tree; the sun is high.
Regarded as raised up or elevated; distinguished; remarkable; conspicuous; superior; - used indefinitely or relatively, and often in figurative senses, which are understood from the connection
Elevated in character or quality, whether moral or intellectual; preëminent; honorable; as, high aims, or motives.
Possessing a characteristic quality in a supreme or superior degree; as, high (i. e., intense) heat; high (i. e., full or quite) noon; high (i. e., rich or spicy) seasoning; high (i. e., complete) pleasure; high (i. e., deep or vivid) color; high (i. e., extensive, thorough) scholarship, etc.
High time it is this war now ended were.
High sauces and spices are fetched from the Indies.
Exalted in social standing or general estimation, or in rank, reputation, office, and the like; dignified; as, she was welcomed in the highest circles.
He was a wight of high renown.
Strong-scented; slightly tainted; as, epicures do not cook game before it is high.
Of noble birth; illustrious; as, of high family.
Acute or sharp; - opposed to grave or low; as, a high note.
Of great strength, force, importance, and the like; strong; mighty; powerful; violent; sometimes, triumphant; victorious; majestic, etc.; as, a high wind; high passions.
Strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.
Can heavenly minds such high resentment show?
Made with a high position of some part of the tongue in relation to the palate, as ē (ēve), Ō (fŌd). See Guide to Pronunciation, 10, 11.
Very abstract; difficult to comprehend or surmount; grand; noble.
Both meet to hear and answer such high things.
Plain living and high thinking are no more.
Costly; dear in price; extravagant; as, to hold goods at a high price.
If they must be good at so high a rate, they know they may be safe at a cheaper.
Arrogant; lofty; boastful; proud; ostentatious; - used in a bad sense.
An high look and a proud heart . . . is sin.
His forces, after all the high discourses, amounted really but to eighteen hundred foot.
In a high manner; in a high place; to a great altitude; to a great degree; largely; in a superior manner; eminently; powerfully.
An elevated place; a superior region; a height; the sky; heaven.
People of rank or high station; as, high and low.
The highest card dealt or drawn.
The dayspring from on high hath visited us.
A lofty level or position or degree;
Summer temperatures reached an all-time high
An air mass of higher than normal pressure;
The east coast benefits from a Bermuda high
A state of sustained elation;
I'm on a permanent high these days
A state of altered consciousness induced by alcohol or narcotics;
They took drugs to get a high on
A high place;
They stood on high and observed the coutryside
He doesn't like heights
A public secondary school usually including grades 9 through 12;
He goes to the neighborhood highschool
A forward gear with a gear ratio giving high vehicle velocity for a given engine speed
Greater than normal in degree or intensity or amount;
A high temperature
A high price
The high point of his career
Has high hopes
The river is high
He has a high opinion of himself
(literal meanings) being at or having a relatively great or specific elevation or upward extension (sometimes used in combinations like `knee-high');
A high mountain
A high forehead
A high incline
A foot high
Standing above others in quality or position;
People in high places
The high priest
Eminent members of the community
Used of sounds and voices; high in pitch or frequency
Happy and excited and energetic
Used of the smell of game beginning to taint
Slightly and pleasantly intoxicated from alcohol or a drug (especially marijuana)
At a great altitude;
He climbed high on the ladder
In or to a high position, amount, or degree;
Prices have gone up far too high
In a rich manner;
He lives high
Far up toward the source;
He lives high up the river
Great in quantity or amount.
The demand for the product was high.
Intense or extreme in degree.
The stakes are high in this game.
Is "tall" only used for living beings?
No, "tall" can describe any object with notable height.
Can "high" and "tall" be used interchangeably?
Sometimes, but not always, due to their distinct nuances.
Can "high" refer to things other than altitude?
Yes, "high" can refer to intensity, quantity, or quality.
What's another word for "high" in a musical context?
Pitch. A "high pitch" refers to a sound with a high frequency.
Can "high" describe intensity?
Yes, as in "high volume" or "high pressure."
Is a "tall glass" only about the glass's height?
Primarily, though it might also imply more volume.
Is a "tall story" about height?
No, it refers to an exaggerated or unbelievable tale.
What's the opposite of "high" in terms of position?
What's the opposite of "tall" for a person?
Can "high" refer to emotions?
Yes, as in "high spirits" or feeling emotionally elevated.
How do you differentiate "high chair" from "tall chair"?
A "high chair" is for babies, while a "tall chair" simply has notable height.
Can mountains be described as "tall"?
Yes, but "high" is more commonly used in relation to mountains.
Can a sound be "high"?
Yes, referring to its frequency or pitch.
Can "high" relate to hierarchy?
Yes, as in "high rank" or "high position."
How do you describe a person's height?
Typically, you'd use "tall" or its antonyms like "short."
What does "high tide" refer to?
It refers to the tide when the water is at its highest level.
Can "tall" describe abstract concepts?
Rarely. Its primary usage is in the physical sense.
Is "tall" used in measurements?
Often, especially describing the height of objects or beings.
What's a "tall order"?
A difficult or ambitious task.
How about "tall ship"?
It refers to traditionally rigged sailing vessels.
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