ˈgȯnt How to pronounce gaunt (audio)
: excessively thin and angular
a long gaunt face
gauntly adverb
gauntness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for gaunt

lean, spare, lank, lanky, gaunt, rawboned, scrawny, skinny mean thin because of an absence of excess flesh.

lean stresses lack of fat and of curving contours.

a lean racehorse

spare suggests leanness from abstemious living or constant exercise.

the gymnast's spare figure

lank implies tallness as well as leanness.

the lank legs of the heron

lanky suggests awkwardness and loose-jointedness as well as thinness.

a lanky youth, all arms and legs

gaunt implies marked thinness or emaciation as from overwork or suffering.

a prisoner's gaunt face

rawboned suggests a large ungainly build without implying undernourishment.

a rawboned farmer

scrawny and skinny imply an extreme leanness that suggests deficient strength and vitality.

a scrawny chicken
skinny street urchins

Examples of gaunt in a Sentence

He left the hospital looking tired and gaunt. a gaunt factory on the edge of town
Recent Examples on the Web The local meth cook, gaunt and missing several teeth, was looking to hand off his lab equipment before going to prison. Photographs Todd Heisler, New York Times, 15 Oct. 2023 Her profile, partially hidden again with dark glasses and a hoodie, was gaunt and thin. Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, 3 Aug. 2023 The glow of the screen cast a sickly pallor on his gaunt face, highlighting the shadows beneath his eyes. Adi Robertson, The Verge, 24 May 2023 Nan’s skinny body, for example, or Benjamin’s gaunt frame in the bath. Cressida Leyshon, The New Yorker, 31 July 2023 In place of the more subdued and gaunt font style, executives have once again opted for a more pronounced, weightier text. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 26 June 2023 Inside the open casket was a woman with a gaunt face and gray hair, who was moving her mouth up and down as two men supported her head. Alexander Smith, NBC News, 19 June 2023 The children, who appear gaunt in the photos, were evaluated by doctors before being flown out by the Colombian Air Force on an air ambulance to the Military Transport Air Command in Bogota, the capital, early Saturday morning. Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, 10 June 2023 Some facial characteristics of runner’s face include leathery, thick, sagging, wrinkly, and tired-looking skin along with sunken eyes and an overall gaunt appearance. Alyssa Hui, Health, 11 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gaunt.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of gaunt was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near gaunt

Cite this Entry

“Gaunt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


ˈgȯnt How to pronounce gaunt (audio)
: being thin and bony (as from hunger or suffering)
: grim and forbidding : barren, desolate
gaunt, leafless trees
gauntly adverb
gauntness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on gaunt

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