Spongy, rock-hard or pliable? Talking about textures (2)

close-up of a man's hand squeezing water from a large yellow cleaning sponge
Peter Dazeley/The Image Bank/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

This is the second of two posts on texture. The previous one provided words to describe food, texture words from fabrics, and words to describe how smooth or rough something is. This one will focus on hardness and softness.

Something that is soft and easy to press down is squashy, or more informally squishy, while the British informal word squidgy describes things that are soft and quite wet and easy to press down. Something spongy is soft and has air in it. This adjective is often used for things that can absorb liquids:

We got some squashy pillows and settled down to watch TV.

They have a lovely squishy sofa.

We made some really squidgy brownies.

Rain had left the ground spongy.

Foamy or frothy substances contain lots of very small bubbles:

The beach was covered in a foamy residue.

They served us a frothy yoghurt drink.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, an emphatic way of saying that something is very hard is rock-hard or rock-solid:

These cakes are rock-hard!

I was aching after a night on her rock-solid mattress.

Something that does not bend easily is stiff and something that does not bend at all is rigid, while a slightly formal word for something that can’t be bent or pressed down is unyielding:

His hair was stiff with hairspray.

The boxes are made from rigid plastic.

We didn’t enjoy running on the unyielding surface of the path.

On the other hand, there are several adjectives for things that are flexible and can be bent or shaped. Pliable and malleable are often used in slightly technical contexts to describe materials that are easy to bend or shape. Something with an elastic texture can be stretched and then returns to its original shape.

They use flexible rubber tubes.

The book was bound in pliable leather.

Silver is highly malleable.

Knead the dough until it is elastic.

Supple is usually a positive description of a substance (or a person!) that can bend easily, while floppy and limp are usually used negatively to say that something isn’t stiff enough and can’t hold its position:

The panel provides a supple texture on which to apply the paint.

The sandwiches were slightly floppy.

The flowers went limp in the hot sun.

I hope you have found these texture words useful. Do feel free to add any more in the comments section below!

7 thoughts on “Spongy, rock-hard or pliable? Talking about textures (2)

  1. Brenda

    Thank you for your posts. I find them interesting and useful. Here you might also consider figurative use – a rock solid alibi, for example.

  2. I find this post as useful as ever. Might I suggest that the posts would work even more wonders if you coud see your way to adding , say, five gapped sentences for us to practise our vocab?

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