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Tall vs. Big: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 13, 2023
Tall refers to height, measuring from base to top, whereas big encompasses overall size, including width, height, and depth.

Key Differences

Tall specifically describes vertical extent, indicating a great distance from bottom to top. Big, on the other hand, denotes large size in more general terms, encompassing width, height, and volume.
In context, tall is often used for objects or people with notable height, like a tall building or a tall person. Big, in contrast, can describe something with considerable dimensions in all directions, like a big house or a big animal.
The word tall is typically not applicable to objects that are broad or wide without significant height. Conversely, big can refer to anything that's large in size, regardless of its specific dimensions.
When considering growth, tall is used to denote vertical increase, as in a child growing taller. Big, however, can refer to growth in overall mass or volume, as in getting bigger in size.
In usage, tall often carries a sense of slenderness or elongation, whereas big might imply a more substantial, sometimes bulky, presence.

Comparison Chart


Height (vertical extent)
Overall size (height, width, depth)

Usage Context

Height of people, trees, buildings
General largeness, including mass & area

Implied Shape

Elongated, slender
Voluminous, expansive

Growth Description

Growing taller (height increase)
Growing bigger (size increase)

Common Associations

Lanky, lofty, towering
Large, hefty, spacious

Tall and Big Definitions


Exceeding average height.
She was the tallest in her class.


Important or significant.
It was a big day for her, graduating from college.


Lofty or elevated in nature.
The mountain's tall peak was covered in snow.


Of considerable size, extent, or intensity.
They moved to a bigger house.


Impressively high or imposing.
The tall trees shaded the entire backyard.


Popular or well-known.
She landed a role in a big movie.


High in stature.
The tower stood tall against the skyline.


Mature or grown-up.
Her son was getting big and starting school soon.


Exaggerated or ambitious in scope.
He was known for telling tall tales.


Generous or magnanimous.
He had a big heart and always helped others.


Having greater than ordinary height
A tall woman.


Of considerable size, number, quantity, magnitude, or extent; large.


Having considerable height, especially in relation to width; lofty
Tall trees.


Having great strength or force
A big wind.
In a big rage.


Having a specified height
A plant three feet tall.


Of great significance; momentous
A big decision.
A big victory.


Is tall always about vertical measurement?

Yes, tall refers specifically to vertical height.

Can tall be used for non-living things?

Yes, tall can describe any object with notable height, like buildings.

Is tall positive or negative?

It's neutral, though context can give it positive or negative connotations.

Does big only refer to physical size?

No, big can also imply importance or significance.

Does big always imply physical presence?

Not always, it can also indicate influence or impact.

Is someone tall if they're above average height?

Typically, yes, especially in comparison to peers.

Is tall used in sports?

Yes, especially to describe height advantages in basketball or volleyball.

Can big describe personality traits?

Yes, phrases like "big personality" imply boldness or prominence.

Does big necessarily mean overweight?

No, big can refer to overall size, not just weight.

Are tall and high interchangeable?

In many contexts, yes, but tall is usually for objects and high for abstract concepts.

Is big used in business language?

Yes, to describe major corporations or significant deals.

Can tall describe feelings or emotions?

Not typically; it's more physical or literal.

Is big a common descriptor in literature?

Yes, for both characters and settings.

Does big always relate to size in common phrases?

Not always; "big idea" focuses more on impact or innovation.

Can animals be described as big?

Yes, big is commonly used to describe large animals.

Can big mean adult or mature?

Yes, especially in phrases like "big boy" or "big girl".

Can tall be used metaphorically?

Yes, like in "tall order," meaning a difficult task.

Are there synonyms for tall?

Yes, like lofty, towering, or lanky.

Does big apply to quantities or amounts?

Yes, it can refer to a large amount or number.

Can tall indicate success or achievement?

Indirectly, as in "standing tall" after an accomplishment.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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