How to describe hit point damage without talking about wounds

From the PHB:

Hit points represent a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck. Creatures with more hit points are more difficult to kill. Those with fewer hit points are more fragile.


Dungeon Masters describe hit point loss in different ways. When your current hit point total is half or more of your hit point maximum. you typically show no signs of injury. When you drop below half your hit point maximum, you show signs of wear, such as cuts and bruises.

My interpretation is that the first few hits don’t cause wounds or bleeding, and saying things like “your blade pierces his ribs” is inaccurate, however I struggle to actually describe blows in combat without saying things like “The blow strikes the armour” for a miss, and “Your blade slices through his leg” for a hit.

I am looking for a alternate method which doesn’t reference wounds, bleeding etc but still has narrative value and the players will be able to tell the difference between a miss and a hit (Or a crit).

What methods have people used to describe damage which meet the criteria above, and how did this impact the experience for the players and DM? Please back up answers will experience using good subjective / bad subjective.

I have tagged this as D&D 5e because I don’t know if the hit point rules are the same in the older versions or other games, but any experience from systems will similar rules will qualify as a good answer.