Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


1. the position that your body is in when you sit, stand, or walk

2. an attitude, or the way that someone behaves towards other people

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun posture came into English in the late 16th century as a borrowing from the French ‘posture’, meaning the position of the  body or the way in which someone holds themselves. The verb is later, first used transitively in the mid 17th century to mean to place someone in a particular position, to pose them. The figurative meanings for both noun and verb date from the 19th century.


Your posture is the way you hold yourself when standing, sitting or walking. You can have good posture or bad posture depending on how upright and natural your stance is. Typical adjectives to describe physical posture are ‘upright’, ‘correct’, and ‘erect’ for good posture and ‘poor’ or ‘abnormal’ for bad. A posture is also a way of behaving towards other people: this kind of posture can typically be aggressive, assertive or confrontational; it can also be defensive or submissive (all of these adjectives can also be applied to physical posture). The physical meaning of the verb is rarely used these days; only the non-physical meaning is common. To posture is to do things only because you want people to notice you, admire you, or be afraid of you. It is often used adjectivally, in which case the typical noun modified is ‘politician’; or as a noun, when the most frequent modifier is ‘macho’. Others include self-righteous, bellicose, belligerent, partisan, aggressive and hypocritical. Posturing is never a good thing, whoever is doing it and whatever their reasons.


“I want to get old gracefully. I want to have good posture, I want to be healthy and be an example to my children.”

“We submit to the majority because we have to. But we are not compelled to call our attitude of subjection a posture of respect.”
(Ambrose Bierce)

Related words

bearing, deportment, stance, carriage

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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