- 1 What is an adjective?
- 2 Positive and negative adjectives
- 3 Personality adjectives – What are the words to describe someone’s personality?
- 4 How to describe a nice person?
- 5 How to describe a bad person?
- 6 How do you describe yourself?
- 7 What are the words to describe someone who is special?
- 8 How to describe behaviour?
- 9 How to describe someone’s appearance?
- 10 50 adjectives to describe a person
- 11 More reading
What is an adjective?
An adjective describes nouns or pronouns. It defines the quality or state of the words that they are modifying. In other words, adjectives are words to describe someone or something. Descriptive adjectives confer a quality or provide an attribute to the naming word i.e. a noun. This type of adjectives describes the size, colour, or shape of a person or a thing.
We can think of numerous adjectives to describe a person in both a positive or negative way. Every individual has his/her distinct character traits and personalities. Human beings also vary in terms of appearance and demeanour. Thus, it’s important to learn the application of precise adjectives to describe a person accurately.
Positive and negative adjectives
Using words that have a broad meaning can impair the aesthetic aspect of your piece, making your speech or write-up sound or look bland. E.g., instead of the common word ‘good’, you can use words that have specific meanings like for e.g., ‘exceptional’ or ‘sterling’. Similarly, you can also use ‘inferior’ or ‘dreadful’ in place of the commonly used word ‘bad’. Thus, employing the exact or accurate adjectives will drastically enhance the quality of your write-up and make it more interesting for the readers. Not only there are positive words to describe someone, but there are adjectives that have negative connotations too.
Personality adjectives – What are the words to describe someone’s personality?
Suppose you are talking about your cousin to your friends. While describing your cousin, you are thinking about his personality or character traits. Now, you need to employ the right adjectives to paint the exact picture of your cousin. Personality adjectives are tricky as you need to use the accurate adjectives to provide a vivid but correct description. Apart from their literal meaning, many words have emotions or feelings attached to them, which lend them their connotative meaning. A word’s usage changes over time, and it may end up having a positive or negative connotation.
So, you might want to describe your cousin as someone who possesses the innocence of a child, a quality missing in so many youths these days. And you use the word ‘childish’. Childish can have a negative implication as it implies silly and immature behaviour. So, your friends will end up thinking your cousin to be a young adult who is behaving immaturely. And they may get confused as to why you are still complimenting him. The word you are looking for is ‘childlike’, which implies the good qualities of a child. It has a positive connotation. Then your description will make sense.
Bob has a childlike directness that is quite admirable. He’s spontaneous and frank, and he will describe what he is feeling to your face openly. You will get an honest and unbiased opinion from him all the time. He’s not complex like us, and his mind is not riddled with complications. Such an innocent, unaffected charm has made him very popular in school.
Now, can you describe your grandmother to your friends? What are the positive qualities does she have? Use the exact words and paint a vivid picture of your grandmother.
How to describe a nice person?
When we like someone or when certain qualities of a person appeal to us, we like to think that he/she is in our good books. When another person asks about him/her, we want to say positive things about the latter. You might want to provide a vivid description, but you can’t think of the right adjectives. Instead, you use the word ‘nice’. Nice has a broad meaning, and it won’t convey the degree of admiration that you feel for the person.
Thus, while describing the person, it is useful to be acquainted with the suitable adjectives that will help us portray a compelling picture of that person. Not only it will convey the right meaning, but the use of specific words to describe someone will enhance the standard of your text.
Linda is a kind and warm-hearted woman. I’m so glad to make acquaintance with such a gentle soul. She’s so thoughtful and courteous, a perfect guest and a host for every occasion. Her relentless philanthropic activities for the village she grew up in is a testament to her generous nature. Linda is bright and hard-working, and there’s a lot to learn from her. The community members are delighted to have her among them.
Can you use your own words to describe someone who is a nice person? Think of the nicest person you know. Try to express the specific qualities he/she has. Use a lot of adjectives and write a piece.
How to describe a bad person?
Today you were humiliated by the bully in school. While returning home, you met a man who shouted at you for touching his car. And just before entering your house, your neighbour’s son taunted you for your performance on the football field yesterday. Overall, you can say that had a ‘bad’ day today because of some ‘bad’ people that you met.
To precisely describe or portray the set of characters you that you encountered today so that your parents or friends can get a detailed picture of your experience, you have to take help of different adjectives and delineate a lucid account. Let’s see which words we can use for each of the three ‘bad’ persons.
1. The bully – Rob has a vile temper. He often tries to harm or intimidate you. He’s obnoxious and confrontational. Everyone is afraid of his hostile behaviour. The pompous oaf is sometimes bossy, ordering you to do impossible tasks that might cause physical injuries.
2. The man on the street – The man is possessive. You just grazed your hand over one door of the car, and yet he yelled at you that attracted attention from the onlookers. He is short-tempered and arrogant. His comments reflect his nasty and disgusting nature.
3. The neighbour’s kid – Bill is inconsiderate. His never-ending taunts disturb you very much. He has a despicable nature, and his vulgar pranks are downright aggressive. On the field, he doesn’t realize that he is being over-critical.
Which person comes to your mind? Can you describe this bad person with the right adjectives?
How do you describe yourself?
No one knows yourself better than you. The best way to tackle this question is to ask these questions to yourself.
- What are your significant character traits?
- Depending on them, what are the three words that best describe you?
- Lastly, how do other people portray you?
But it’s important to understand the situation before delving into the world of adjectives to define yourself. If you are describing yourself at an interview, use words like innovative, independent, professional, diligent, responsible, adaptable, etc. to instil a sense of confidence in your employer’s mind. But, you must remember to be discreet and not sound pretentious. Thus, avoid using adjectives like perfect, flawless, wise, etc.
But, the stock of adjectives for describing yourself should be different when you are talking about yourself to a friend. You can use words like friendly, adventurous, witty, passionate, etc., and describe things or concepts that you prefer or like. You can also use words that do not have an overtly positive connotation like for e.g., shy, just to provide a more realistic depiction of your traits.
What are the words to describe someone who is special?
Who is someone special? He/she is someone, for whom, you have the deepest affection and utmost respect, and the person holds a special spot in your heart. Someone special to you can be a family member or a friend. For using precise words to describe someone who’s special, you need to delve deep into the crevices of your heart and discern or distinguish your feelings. In this cut-throat competitive environment, we are so pre-occupied with our work that we hardly devote any time to the people we love and care for, people who matter to us. So, we must be more solicitous and make time for our loved ones.
But, at times, our mind fails us even if the heart is in the right place. We don’t use the right words to express the exact feeling for these people. We need to use the best adjectives to describe a person and show how special he/she is to us. Some of the adjectives that we can use are – affable, amicable, caring, thoughtful, beautiful, classy, precious, impressive, irreplaceable, trustworthy, understanding, sweet, etc. These are just a few examples. What other adjectives come to your mind when you describe someone special to you?
How to describe behaviour?
There are a large number of adjectives in the English dictionary that describe human behaviour. How a person conducts oneself in front of others, tell us a lot about his nature and character. A person’s behaviour affects us greatly. We might admire him/her, or we might get offended. Depending on the behaviour, we can attribute several words to accurately describe what kind of a person he/she is.
When we like someone’s behaviour or manners or when he exhibits proper etiquettes, we can use adjectives that have positive connotation to describe that person. Some of them are – creative, ambitious, compassionate, generous, polite, chivalrous, pleasant, gallant, etc. When we are affronted or hurt by other peoples’ behaviour, we can use words that have negative connotation like careless, unruly, bossy, manipulative, volatile, insolent, obnoxious, etc.
Now, we all know that we are either introverts or extroverts. One who tends to seek solitude and spend time with oneself is termed as an introvert. Demure, reticent, tight-lipped, secretive, taciturn, etc. are some of the adjectives you can use to describe an introvert. An extrovert seeks social engagement and likes being with people. Thus, we can use such words as gregarious, amicable, outgoing, cordial, chatty, etc.
So, are you an introvert or an extrovert? Can you describe yourself in 5 appropriate adjectives?
How to describe someone’s appearance?
There are numerous words in the English lexicon for describing the appearance of someone. What do we mean by appearance? We are not talking about physical or outward appearance only. We are also referring to the inner qualities of mind and character. Let us divide this broad category into three sub-groups – attractive persons, ugly persons, and villainous persons.
How to describe an attractive person?
For describing the outward appearance of attractive people, you can use words like beautiful, gorgeous, pretty, cute, handsome, etc. But, these are very generic terms. If we want to describe am an attractive person in detail, we have to take cues from authors and how they describe their characters in their novels or novellas.
Think of it as if you are writing a book. And this person is one of your characters. It will help you to visualize better and use the entire range of vocabulary to sketch this person accurately. Thus, we can be more specific and describe the person’s athletic or muscular body, the long, lustrous or silky, soft hair, the aquiline or Roman nose, etc. That person can be a blonde or a brunette, he/she could be blue-eyed or doe-eyed, and his/her jawline could be chiselled or square.
Some words that you can also use in place of the generic ones are – stylish, dashing, dapper, ravishing, arresting, etc. When we talk of inner disposition, we must focus on their mood. Is the person funny and jovial? Or is he reserved and dignified? Maybe the person is friendly and chatty. All these qualities are appealing, and the degree of attraction varies from person to person. You might not personally like one of these qualities in a person, but in general terms, these are construed as positive attributes that make a person attractive.
How to describe an ugly person?
We come across several people who we refer to as ugly because of their nature, demeanour, and conduct. Ugly people tend to be arrogant, ill-mannered, menacing, rude, grumpy, disagreeable, etc. But what about a terrifying monster like The Sandman or the wicked witch in Hansel and Gretel? Surely, we need more specific words to portray a vivid description of such abominable creatures. Let us look at this description of a witch below.
The night was dark and dreary as I slowly opened my window and peeked outside. To my utmost horror, I saw a grisly witch hovering around the woods beside my house. After doing a few rounds on the idiosyncratic broomstick, she stopped in front of my window. Without a doubt, she was the most grotesque thing I have ever seen.
Her bristly eyebrows sheltered two anguine eyes that looked so ominous that it sent a shiver down my spine. Her hair was matted and looked lice-infected. The contorted nose produced a shrill sound each time she broke into a fit of a cackling laugh. The malevolent sorceress suddenly snapped her fingers and vanished without a trace, just like she had appeared on that weary night of a bleak December.
Here, not only have we painted a vivid description of the witch, but we have also coloured our entire text with negative adjectives that will enhance the ugliness or the hideous nature of the witch.
How to describe a villainous person?
A villain has been an essential part of literature since time immemorial. His evil intentions and actions add a different dimension to a piece of writing. We can encounter villainous persons in our lives too. We might know someone who might appear to be a good soul, but deep down, he has malicious motives. While describing a villain, we must try to recognize the type of villain that person is, and accordingly use the adjectives to depict an accurate description.
When a villain is a mastermind, he can be best described as scheming, avaricious, ungrateful, scrupulous, vicious, etc. He can also be an evil incarnate, one who personifies evil himself. Use words like sinister, monstrous, bloodthirsty, diabolic, demonic, etc. to describe such a person. A villain might not be as radical as the above-mentioned ones. He might be a henchman or a part of a criminal gang whose activities might include robbing and swindling. These guys can be best described as nefarious, crooked, wicked, corrupt, violent, etc.
There are several types and sub-types for villains, but the use of adjectives always depends upon the nature of the character. And there are plenty more adjectives in the English dictionary that you can innovatively use to describe a villain.
50 adjectives to describe a person
Here’s our list of 50 adjectives to describe a person that will enrich your vocabulary.
1. Absent-minded – forgetful, lost in thoughts or oblivious of one’s surroundings
The absent-minded actor kept fluffing his lines.
2. Ardent – passionate and highly enthusiastic
Tim is an ardent supporter of Real Madrid.
3. Boisterous – noisy, full of energy, and cheerful
A bevy of boisterous sailors barged into the bar and created a ruckus.
4. Cantankerous – bad-tempered, argumentative, and difficult to deal with
The cantankerous old man is always shouting at those young kids playing in his garden.
5. Charismatic – a compelling charm that mesmerizes others
Raymond was a charismatic speaker and had a good following.
6. Chic – fashionable or stylish, debonair
Mary was looking very chic in that red gown.
7. Clumsy – awkward, lacking dexterity, especially in handling things; unwieldy
On their first meeting, Louis was very clumsy and nervous.
8. Crestfallen – disappointed and dejected
John opened the mail very eagerly but looked crestfallen after he reading it.
9. Demure – characterized by modesty, reserved
Patricia’s demure nature is a facade.
10. Diligent – showing care and willingness to do one’s work or duty well
It’s very easy to overlook the efforts put in by our diligent assistants and secretaries.
11. Drowsy – feeling extremely sleepy and lethargic; half-asleep
The movie was so boring that I started feeling drowsy.
12. Easy-going – calm and relaxed, not easily upset
Missy’s easy-going nature made her popular among her classmates.
13. Enthusiastic – showing or having intense enjoyment and interest and an eagerness to partake in it
The audience was very enthusiastic on the opening day of the production.
14. Fastidious – meticulous, very particular about detail and accuracy, concerned about keeping things clean and tidy
Rhea is very fastidious about washing hands before touching food.
15. Fervent – showing or having strong feelings, marked by a great intensity
Pitt was a fervent supporter of women’s rights movements.
16. Flamboyant – elaborate and extravagant, exudes confidence and style that attract attention
In my opinion, David Bowie was the most flamboyant rock star of our time.
17. Funny – providing fun, humorous, causing laughter; strange or unusual; difficult to understand
Pam is so funny that she also makes the teachers laugh.
18. Fussy – finicky or fastidious, not easily pleased, worrying about unnecessary details
Our English teacher is very fussy about punctuation marks.
19. Generous – willingness to help or give more than it is expected or usual, especially in monetary terms
Our neighbours are poor, but they are extremely generous with their donations.
20. Grouchy – grumpy; easily annoyed and complaining about every little things
Martin tends to get a little grouchy at times, but he has a good heart.
21. Haughty – arrogant and disdainfully proud, having or showing a feeling of superiority and contempt for anything perceived as inferior
The aristocrats treated the peasants with haughty contempt.
22. Hot-headed – impetuous and fiery-tempered, gets angry easily
The hot-headed bowler threw the ball at the umpire in rage.
23. Humble – modest, considerate of others, one who doesn’t believe that other people are inferior; low-ranking in hierarchy or scale
Rick is a millionaire, but he’s always so humble.
24. Independent – free from the control or influence of others; self-sufficient
It’s time Alan learns to be independent and make his own decisions.
25. Irascible – gets angry easily, short-tempered, irritable
Everyone was scared to initiate a conversation with Bluto because of his irascible temper.
26. Jovial – cheerful and friendly
Richard was in a jovial mood after winning the football match.
27. Kind-hearted – possessing or showing sympathy or kindness
Beneath his gruff exterior, John is actually very kind-hearted.
28. Level-headed – sensible and rational, exercising sound judgment
Frank is level-headed and pragmatic, and that’s why he is our leader.
29. Lanky – thin, tall, and ungainly
The hollow-cheeked lanky lad with his long, skinny legs, looked emaciated.
30. Morose – sullen and ill-humored, marked by a sense of gloom
She remained morose for days, and we could do little to cheer her up.
31. Mature – grown-up, having reached the stage of physical or mental development of an adult
Jane is quite mature for her age.
32. Meddlesome – interfering or one who likes to meddle.
Laura’s meddlesome nature created a rift between her and her husband.
33. Naive – innocent or marked by unaffected simplicity; one who lacks experience or wisdom
I was very naive to think that the guys will take this game seriously.
34. Naughty – disobedient or mischievous; indecent
The naughty children chucked snowballs at the cranky old man.
35. Nosy – curious about the affairs of other people, prying
My neighbours are so nosy that we try our best to avoid them.
36. Obnoxious – Unpleasant, rude, or highly offensive
The obnoxious bully confronted us again near the gate.
37. Outspoken – direct and frank in expressing one’s opinion
The outspoken minister is a liability for the governing party.
38. Petulant – being peevish or sulky in an unreasonable, childlike way
Ryan became more petulant than ever as we kept on pulling his leg.
39. Proficient – skilled and experienced, competent in doing or using something
Marta is highly proficient in both Spanish and Portuguese.
40. Reclusive – solitary, one who deliberately avoids the company of other other people or lives in seclusion
Great Garbo shunned all the limelight and lived a reclusive life.
41. Restless – unable to relax, keep still, or concentrate due to anxiety, impatience, or boredom
As a child, I used to get restless on long, arduous trips.
42. Rotund – plump, large, and round in shape
A rotund, middle-aged man greeted us at the reception of the hotel.
43. Shrewd – astute or sharp at understanding and making judgments
Bill is a shrewd politician who had his unique ways of dealing with the press.
44. Stern – serious and unyielding in nature or manner
Professor White was a man of stern disposition and always maintained at an attitude of dignified reserve.
45. Tetchy – bad-tempered and easily annoyed
The kid always gets tetchy when he is hungry.
46. Timid – lack of courage and self-assurance, easily frightened.
Jimmy is as timid as a mouse.
47. Unstable – unsteady, not firmly fixed; susceptible to psychiatric problems
Our grandmother was unstable and was prone to severe mood swings.
48. Venal – prone to taking bribes, corrupt
The venal referees were severely punished for rigging the game.
49. Warm-hearted – having or showing kindness and sympathy
Irina’s mother is is a warm-hearted and caring woman.
50. Zealous – enthusiastic, characterized by zeal
Agnes was a zealous participant at the gender pay gap protests.
The above list of adjectives describing a person is illustrative and not exhaustive. The best way to enhance your vocabulary is to read more about different types of adjectives. Always remember to use the precise adjectives to describe a person.
What’s an adjective?
Adjectives starting with ‘a’
Adjectives beginning with ‘e’
50 books to enrich your vocabulary
Twinkl – Character Adjective Word Mat
Twinkl – Character Description Word Mat
Tes – Describing characters – finding adjectives