Here's What A Person Might Mean When They Call You Sexy Or Hot

When I say David Beckham is the sexiest man to walk the planet, I mean I like how he looks physically, but I also love that he’s a family man. My feelings toward David Beckham are sort of like what it means when someone calls you "sexy" or "hot." Each person has their own reasons and qualifiers because both adjectives are entirely subjective. Someone's charming personality, sense of humor, or infectious laugh can 100% make them sexy or hot to someone else. According to sexologist and relationship expert Lisa Hochberger, “In my clinical experience, ‘sexy’ and ‘hot’ mean something different depending on who you ask.”

It's OK to appreciate or compliment someone's physical attributes without making them feel objectified. It's also OK to appreciate someone's non-physical traits, if that's what makes them "sexy" or "hot" to you. According to Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, “What goes into a person’s definition of sexy or hot can differ significantly ... It can be anything from the way you smell to how you talk, walk, interact with a puppy, do your work, move your eyes, repair a car, fold laundry. Really, any combination of factors that are appealing to your SO can fuel their perception that you are sexy and/or hot.” While it’s important to show interest in your partner (or potential partner), it's never OK to cat call, judge, body shame, or reduce someone to the sum total of their looks.

If ever you find yourself on the receiving end of one of these compliments, you can acknowledge the compliment if you'd like, but you don't have to. Your opinion of yourself matters much more than anyone else's. But what does being “sexy” or “hot” mean, and what do people mean when they say it?

Here, seven people reveal what they mean when they call someone "sexy" and/or "hot." The thing about attraction is, as hard as you try to find one specific explanation for finding someone desirable, it’s absolutely still subjective. There's no reason to worry about fitting into one person's definition of what sexiness looks (or acts, or sounds) like.

Some people don’t even know what “sexy” or “hot” means.
I won't ever use those words to describe someone I'm interested in because I kind of think it's derogatory. Like, why not just say she's attractive? What is 'hot'?

— Kip*, 22

Some people use different words to convey attraction, especially because “attraction” can make up more than just physical features. Host of the dating podcast He Said What, Melissa Diamond, says, "Most people assume [‘sexy’ and ‘hot’] only have physical meaning, but I disagree. It can mean that they are physically and/or mentally/emotionally attracted to you. They can find your sense of humor sexy not just the way you appear on the surface.”

Others don’t use the adjectives at all.
Just means I think they're good-looking, I guess. I don't know. I don't really use 'sexy' or 'hot' when I describe anyone's looks. Sounds childish.

— Vee*, 29

Klapow says, “For some, the words ‘sexy’ and ‘hot’ are just not a significant part of their makeup. They may ‘feel’ that you are sexy and hot but not verbalize it.”

They could just be simple words that convey simple emotions.
When guys say that, they probably don't mean anything particularly interesting. More than likely it's just the simplest way of conveying physical attraction.

— Will*, 29

Diamond says, “Everyone has their own perspectives on these terms but there is no universal definition. To each their own!”

“Hot” and “sexy” could point to someone’s overall vibe.
'Hot' is probably something I would think but never say, you know? I guess it means I like you. I like your vibe. I think you're cute AF.

— Liam*, 23

Klapow agrees that being “sexy” is not just about one thing. "Attraction to another person is clearly physical in nature,” he says, “but 'sexy' and 'hot' can be very evolved experiences that are driven by subtleties about the person, their nature, and how they move through the world.”

Everything you do is hot to someone who really likes you.
It’s hot when a girl has lots of confidence and ambition. Knowing what she wants and going after it is incredibly attractive. I would say that if you’re in a relationship (like I am), then pretty much everything your SO does is hot.

— Saul, 26

Hochberger says, "People are attracted to a number of qualities, so someone might value a potential partner's sense of humor, knowledge about the arts, or a variety of other things."

Others have more questions than answers.
I feel like it's one of those things you can't explain. It's for sure tied to sex, right? Because you can admit someone is attractive but not necessarily hot? Plus, sex-y. Right?

— Cody*, 26

Diamond clears this one up. "Most people assume these words only have physical meaning, but I disagree," she says. "It can mean that they are physically and/or mentally/emotionally attracted to you. They can find your sense of humor sexy — not just the way you appear on the surface."

*Names have been changed.