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Essay Words For Feelings

The English language would be rather dull without adjectives. They dress up our nouns whenever we need to punch things up a notch. So, that heartache you're feeling is no longer heartache, it's crippling heartache, or debilitating heartache that is tearing you apart, or maybe just a small heartache that you’ll get over quickly.

Whenever you're speaking or writing, you may want to get your point across with a little extra oomph. When it's time to do so, call in the big dogs, the adjectives. Let's take a closer look.

Adjectives: Tone, Feelings, and Emotions


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Adjectives help express the tone, feelings, and emotions of our words by accentuating the point. Let's take our example of heartache above. It would be difficult to quickly ascertain how severe (or minor) that heartache is, without the use of those adjectives.

Of course, context clues would eventually reveal more, but adjectives allow us to succinctly describe a situation so we can continue along in our story, essay, or speech.

Through tone, a reader is able to gain an overall sense about a character's personality or disposition. It can even shape an entire piece of writing, making it feel serious, funny, dramatic, or upsetting.

Without the adjectives in these examples, we wouldn't know if this was going to be a story about sadness or hope:

  • Tone-Setting (Negative): With a heavy heart, she walked to the mailbox and mailed her letter.
  • Tone-Setting (Positive): The excited girl walked to the mailbox and mailed her letter.

Emotions and feelings are very similar. In fact, the definition of feeling is to have an emotion. The only difference is that emotions tend to refer to that which isn't tangible, while feelings are something you can kind of put your finger on. But, that's really splitting hairs. Let's take a closer look.

Emotions can be slightly less than tangible as they’re not something we can easily see. We can guess that someone is miserable or jubilant but emotions aren't always expressed. Rather, it's something we sense:

  • Adjective for Emotions (Negative): The miserable boy walked home in the rain.
  • Adjectives for Emotions (Positive): The jubilant boy walked home in the rain.

Oftentimes, feelings are something we can more visibly see or experience. Whether someone's sad, mad, happy, or ecstatic, feelings tend to house our emotions, amplifying a particular situation. For example:

  • Adjectives for Feelings (Negative): The shy girl flushed with embarrassment. 
  • Adjectives for Feelings (Positive): The delighted girl flushed with anticipation.

Tips for Using Adjectives

It can be difficult to find just the right word to describe a tone or feeling being experienced by someone. You never want to come across sounding trite, or use an adjective that's too weak to express the gravity of a particular situation.

It's a bit like building your vocabulary. The more you read, the more you'll discover new words and meanings, including adjectives, and how they are used to highlight emotions.

That said, like anything else that's good in life, keep it in moderation. Don't douse every noun in sugar. Instead, sprinkle a little sweetness on the situations or words that will truly benefit from a tasty addition.

Here are three things to remember when describing tone, feelings or emotions:

  • Clarity: Adjectives should help clarify your writing, not muddy the waters. So, take a quick scan through your work. Do your adjectives illustrate the point or situation? Are they at all unnecessary? For example, do you need to say “the hot, sweaty baseball player” or just “the sweaty baseball player”?
  • Overindulgence: Again, don't pick a slew of different adjectives: “The timid, nervous teacher slowly approached the noisy classroom with fearful trepidation.” If you start using too many adjectives, your writing quickly becomes flowery. Not only are you going to confuse your readers, but your writing will appear choppy and even phony.
  • Time: Don't be afraid to take some time to figure out a situation. For example, you might have to analyze the tone of a short composition. Sit back for a while and let the words really sink in.

Hopefully, these tips will help you not only use adjectives in your own writing, but teach them to your children or students. Much like their cousin, the adverb, they add so much to our writing when used properly.

For a quick cheat sheet, refer to our printable list of adjectives. This is only a selection of the thousands of adjectives available in the English language, but it should be enough to shift the writer's block you or your students may be feeling the next time you need to convey a certain tone, feeling, or emotion!

Adjectives for Tone, Feelings & Emotions

To Describe a Positive Tone

fresh

open

animated

devoted

loving

sympathetic

encouraging

supportive

kind

clever

warm

hopeful

To Describe a Negative Tone

sarcastic

narcissistic

heavy

bitter

obnoxious

foolish

disgruntled

hurtful

disgusted

irritated

nasty

oppressive

anxious

horrified

annoyed

resentful

sick

guilty

downcast

overbearing

To Describe Other Tones

involved

sardonic

intelligent

religious

political

secular

bashful

democratic

republican

mysterious

conservative

bright

cautious

liberal

quizzical

secretive

To Describe a Positive Feeling

happy

amazed

free

wonderful

clean

strong

beautiful

excited

great

bold

gorgeous

attractive

better

agreeable

brave

calm

delightful

festive

gentle

jolly

proud

shy

optimistic

cheerful

To Describe a Negative Feeling

angry

sadistic

moody

cold

pessimistic

sad

chilly

thirsty

nervous

tired

weak

evil

terrible

dreadful

dirty

ugly

dreary

awful

stupid

dumb

To Describe a Positive Emotion

upbeat

joyful

sweet

serene

respectful

appreciative

contented

jubilant

To Describe a Negative Emotion

aggravated

miserable

mad

grumpy

tearful

selfish

depressed

sour

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List of Adjectives to Describe Tone and Feelings and Emotions

By YourDictionary

The English language would be rather dull without adjectives. They dress up our nouns whenever we need to punch things up a notch. So, that heartache you're feeling is no longer heartache, it's crippling heartache, or debilitating heartache that is tearing you apart, or maybe just a small heartache that you’ll get over quickly.
  • happy

    marked by good fortune

  • alive

    possessing life

  • good

    having desirable or positive qualities

  • understanding

    the condition of someone who knows and comprehends

  • great

    a person who has achieved distinction in some field

  • playful

    full of fun and high spirits

  • calm

    not agitated; without losing self-possession

  • confident

    having or marked by assurance

  • gay

    someone who practices homosexuality

  • courageous

    able to face and deal with danger or fear without flinching

  • peaceful

    not disturbed by strife or turmoil or war

  • reliable

    worthy of trust

  • joyous

    full of or characterized by happiness

  • energetic

    possessing or displaying forceful exertion

  • at ease
  • easy

    posing no difficulty; requiring little effort

  • lucky

    having or bringing good fortune

  • liberated

    free from traditional social restraints

  • comfortable

    providing or experiencing physical well-being or relief

  • amazed

    filled with the emotional impact of overwhelming surprise

  • fortunate

    having unexpected good luck

  • optimistic

    hopeful that the best will happen in the future

  • pleased

    experiencing or manifesting pleasure

  • free

    able to act at will

  • delighted

    greatly pleased

  • provocative

    serving or tending to excite or stimulate

  • encouraged

    inspired with confidence

  • sympathetic

    expressing compassion or friendly fellow feelings

  • overjoyed

    extremely joyful

  • impulsive

    without forethought

  • clever

    mentally quick and resourceful

  • interested

    showing curiosity or fascination or concern

  • gleeful

    full of high-spirited delight

  • surprised

    taken unawares and feeling wonder or astonishment

  • satisfied

    filled with contentment

  • thankful

    feeling or showing gratitude

  • frisky

    playful like a lively kitten

  • content

    satisfied or showing satisfaction with things as they are

  • receptive

    able to absorb liquid (not repellent)

  • important

    significant in effect or meaning

  • animated

    having life or vigor or spirit

  • quiet

    characterized by an absence of agitation or activity

  • accepting

    tolerating without protest

  • festive

    offering fun and gaiety

  • spirited

    displaying animation, vigor, or liveliness

  • certain

    established beyond doubt or question; definitely known

  • kind

    having a tender and considerate and helpful nature

  • ecstatic

    feeling great rapture or delight

  • thrilled

    feeling intense pleasurable excitement

  • relaxed

    without strain or anxiety

  • wonderful

    extraordinarily good or great

  • serene

    not agitated

  • glad

    showing or causing joy and pleasure; especially made happy

  • free-and-easy

    natural and unstudied

  • cheerful

    being full of or promoting cheer

  • bright

    emitting or reflecting light readily or in large amounts

  • sunny

    bright and pleasant; promoting a feeling of cheer

  • blessed

    highly favored or fortunate (as e.g. by divine grace)

  • merry

    full of or showing high-spirited joy

  • reassured

    having confidence restored; freed from anxiety

  • elated

    exultantly proud and joyful; in high spirits

  • jubilant

    full of high-spirited delight

  • love

    a strong positive emotion of regard and affection

  • interested

    showing curiosity or fascination or concern

  • positive

    characterized by or displaying affirmation or acceptance

  • strong

    having strength or power greater than average or expected

  • loving

    feeling or showing love and affection

  • concerned

    feeling or showing worry or solicitude

  • eager

    having or showing keen interest or intense desire

  • considerate

    showing concern for the rights and feelings of others

  • affected

    influenced

  • keen

    intense or sharp

  • affectionate

    having or displaying warmth or affection

  • fascinated

    having your attention fixated as though by a spell

  • earnest

    characterized by a firm, humorless belief in one's opinions

  • sure

    having or feeling no doubt or uncertainty

  • sensitive

    responsive to physical stimuli

  • intrigue

    a crafty and involved plot to achieve your ends

  • intent

    an anticipated outcome that guides your planned actions

  • tender

    easy to cut or chew

  • absorbed

    retained without reflection

  • anxious

    causing or fraught with or showing anxiety

  • rebellious

    resisting control or authority

  • devoted

    zealous in allegiance or affection

  • inquisitive

    given to questioning

  • inspired

    of surpassing excellence

  • unique

    the single one of its kind

  • attract

    exert a force on

  • nosy

    offensively curious or inquisitive

  • determined

    having been learned or found especially by investigation

  • dynamic

    characterized by action or forcefulness of personality

  • passionate

    having or expressing strong emotions

  • snoopy

    offensively curious or inquisitive

  • excited

    in an aroused state

  • tenacious

    stubbornly unyielding

  • admiration

    a feeling of delighted approval and liking

  • engrossed

    giving or marked by complete attention to

  • enthusiastic

    having or showing great excitement and interest

  • hardy

    having rugged physical strength

  • warm

    having or producing a comfortable and agreeable degree of heat or imparting or maintaining heat

  • curious

    eager to investigate and learn or learn more

  • bold

    fearless and daring

  • secure

    free from danger or risk

  • touched

    having come into contact

  • brave

    possessing or displaying courage

  • sympathy

    sharing the feelings of others, especially sorrow or anguish

  • daring

    a challenge to do something dangerous or foolhardy

  • close

    at or within a short distance in space or time

  • challenge

    a call to engage in a contest or fight

  • loved

    held dear

  • comforted

    made comfortable or more comfortable in a time of distress

  • reenforce

    make stronger

  • drainboard

    a board beside a kitchen sink and inclined to drain into the sink

  • hopeful

    having or manifesting optimism

  • angry

    feeling or showing extreme displeasure or hostility

  • depressed

    filled with melancholy and despondency

  • confused

    unable to think with clarity or act intelligently

  • helpless

    unable to function; without help

  • irritated

    aroused to impatience or anger

  • lousy

    very bad

  • upset

    cause to lose one's composure

  • incapable

    lacking ability

  • enraged

    marked by extreme anger

  • disappointed

    sadly unsuccessful

  • doubtful

    fraught with uncertainty

  • alone

    isolated from others

  • hostile

    characterized by enmity or ill will

  • discouraged

    lacking in resolution

  • uncertain

    lacking or indicating lack of confidence or assurance

  • paralyzed

    affected with paralysis

  • insulting

    expressing extreme contempt

  • ashamed

    feeling guilt or embarrassment or remorse

  • indecisive

    characterized by lack of resoluteness

  • fatigued

    drained of energy or effectiveness

  • sore

    causing misery or pain or distress

  • powerless

    lacking power

  • perplexed

    full of difficulty or confusion or bewilderment

  • useless

    having no beneficial utility

  • annoyed

    troubled persistently

  • diminished

    made to seem smaller or less, especially in worth

  • embarrassed

    feeling or caused to feel uneasy and self-conscious

  • inferior

    of or characteristic of low rank or importance

  • guilty

    responsible for or chargeable with a reprehensible act

  • hesitant

    unable to act or decide quickly or firmly

  • vulnerable

    capable of being wounded or hurt

  • hateful

    evoking or deserving hatred

  • dissatisfied

    in a state of sulky dissatisfaction

  • shy

    timid and lacking self-confidence

  • empty

    holding or containing nothing

  • unpleasant

    disagreeable to the senses, to the mind, or feelings

  • miserable

    very unhappy

  • stupefied

    as if struck dumb with astonishment and surprise

  • forced

    forced or compelled

  • offensive

    unpleasant or disgusting especially to the senses

  • detestable

    offensive to the mind

  • disillusioned

    freed from false ideas

  • bitter

    causing a sharp and acrid taste experience

  • repugnant

    offensive to the mind

  • unbelieving

    rejecting any belief in gods

  • despair

    a state in which all hope is lost or absent

  • aggressive

    characteristic of an enemy or one eager to fight

  • despicable

    morally reprehensible

  • skeptical

    marked by or given to doubt

  • frustrated

    disappointingly unsuccessful

  • resentful

    full of or marked by indignant ill will

  • disgusting

    highly offensive

  • distrustful

    having or showing distrust

  • distressed

    feeling general unhappiness

  • inflamed

    resulting from inflammation; hot and swollen and reddened

  • abominable

    unequivocally detestable

  • misgiving

    uneasiness about the fitness of an action

  • woeful

    affected by or full of grief or woe

  • provoked

    incited, especially deliberately, to anger

  • terrible

    exceptionally bad or displeasing

  • lost

    confused as to time or place or personal identity

  • pathetic

    deserving or inciting pity

  • incensed

    angered at something unjust or wrong

  • in disrepair
  • unsure

    lacking self-confidence

  • tragic

    very sad, especially involving grief or death or destruction

  • infuriated

    marked by extreme anger

  • sulky

    sullen or moody

  • uneasy

    causing or fraught with or showing anxiety

  • in haste

    in a hurried or hasty manner

  • cross

    a marking that consists of lines that intersect each other

  • bad

    having undesirable or negative qualities

  • pessimistic

    expecting the worst possible outcome

  • dominated

    controlled or ruled by superior authority or power

  • worked up

    (of persons) excessively affected by emotion

  • anencephalous

    characterized by partial or total absence of a brain

  • tense

    taut or rigid; stretched tight

  • boiling

    the application of heat to change something from a liquid to a gas

  • fume

    a cloud of fine particles suspended in a gas

  • indignant

    angered at something unjust or wrong

  • indifferent

    marked by a lack of interest

  • afraid

    filled with fear or apprehension

  • hurt

    be the source of pain

  • sad

    experiencing or showing sorrow or unhappiness

  • insensitive

    not noticing or caring about the feelings or needs of others

  • fearful

    experiencing or showing fear

  • crushed

    treated so as to have a permanently wrinkled appearance

  • tearful

    filled with or marked by weeping

  • dull

    so lacking in interest as to cause mental weariness

  • terrified

    thrown into a state of intense fear or desperation

  • tormented

    experiencing intense pain especially mental pain

  • sorrowful

    experiencing or marked by or expressing sadness

  • nonchalant

    marked by blithe unconcern

  • suspicious

    openly distrustful and unwilling to confide

  • deprived

    marked by a state of extreme poverty

  • pained

    hurt or upset

  • neutral

    having no personal preference

  • grief

    intense sorrow caused by loss of a loved one

  • reserved

    set aside for the use of a particular person or party

  • alarmed

    experiencing a sudden sense of danger

  • tortured

    experiencing intense pain especially mental pain

  • anguish

    extreme distress of body or mind

  • weary

    physically and mentally fatigued

  • panic

    an overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety

  • dejected

    affected or marked by low spirits

  • desolate

    providing no shelter or sustenance

  • bored

    uninterested because of frequent exposure or indulgence

  • nervous

    of or relating to a system of sensory apparatus

  • rejected

    rebuffed (by a lover) without warning

  • desperate

    a person who is frightened and in need of help

  • preoccupied

    having excessive or compulsive concern with something

  • scared

    made afraid

  • injured

    harmed

  • cold

    having a low or inadequate temperature

  • worried

    afflicted with or marked by anxious uneasiness or trouble

  • offended

    hurt or upset

  • unhappy

    experiencing or marked by or causing sadness or sorrow or discontent

  • disinterested

    unaffected by concern for one's own welfare

  • frightened

    made afraid

  • afflicted

    mentally or physically unfit

  • lonely

    lacking companions or companionship

  • lifeless

    deprived of life; no longer living

  • timid

    showing fear and lack of confidence

  • aching

    causing a dull and steady pain

  • grieve

    feel grief

  • shaky

    vibrating slightly and irregularly

  • victimized

    of persons; taken advantage of

  • mournful

    expressing sorrow

  • restless

    lacking physical or mental ease

  • heartbroken

    full of sorrow

  • dismayed

    struck with fear, dread, or consternation

  • agonized

    expressing pain or agony

  • threatened

    likely in the near future to become endangered

  • appalled

    struck with fear, dread, or consternation

  • cowardly

    lacking courage; ignobly timid and faint-hearted

  • humiliated

    subdued or brought low in condition or status

  • quaking
  • wrong

    not correct; not in conformity with fact or truth

  • menace

    something that is a source of danger

  • alienated

    caused to be unloved

  • wary

    marked by keen caution and watchful prudence

  • aback

    by surprise

  • abandoned

    forsaken by owner or inhabitants

  • abashed

    feeling or caused to feel uneasy and self-conscious

  • abducted
  • aberrant

    markedly different from an accepted norm

  • aberration

    a state or condition markedly different from the norm

  • abhor

    find repugnant

  • abject

    of the most contemptible kind

  • ablaze

    lighted up by or as by fire or flame

  • able

    having the necessary means or skill to do something

  • abnormal

    not typical or usual or regular

  • about

    (of quantities) imprecise but fairly close to correct

  • abrasive

    causing irritation or erosion by friction

  • absentminded

    lost in thought; showing preoccupation

  • absolved

    freed from any question of guilt

  • absorbent

    having power or capacity or tendency to absorb or soak up something (liquids or energy etc.)

  • abstemious

    marked by temperance in indulgence

  • abstracted

    lost in thought; showing preoccupation

  • abulic

    suffering from abulia

  • abused

    subjected to cruel treatment

  • abusive

    characterized by physical or psychological maltreatment

  • abysmal

    resembling an abyss in depth; so deep as to be immeasurable

  • abyssal

    relating to ocean depths from 2000 to 5000 meters

  • accelerated

    speeded up, as of an academic course

  • acceptable

    worthy of approval or satisfactory

  • accepted

    generally approved or compelling recognition

  • accessible

    capable of being reached

  • accident-prone

    having more than the average number of accidents

  • acclaim

    enthusiastic approval

  • acclimate

    get used to a certain environment

  • accommodate

    have room for; hold without crowding

  • accommodating

    obliging; willing to do favors

  • accomplished

    highly skilled

  • accost

    approach and speak to someone aggressively or insistently

  • accost

    approach and speak to someone aggressively or insistently

  • accurate

    characterized by perfect conformity to fact or truth

  • accusatory

    containing or expressing blame

  • accused

    a defendant in a criminal proceeding

  • accusing

    containing or expressing accusation

  • acerbic

    sour or bitter in taste

  • acknowledged

    recognized or made known or admitted

  • acquiescent

    willing to carry out the orders or wishes of another

  • acquisitive

    eager to attain and possess material possessions

  • acrimonious

    marked by strong resentment or cynicism

  • activated

    rendered active

  • active

    characterized by energetic movement

  • actualized
  • adamant

    very hard native crystalline carbon valued as a gem

  • addicted

    compulsively or physiologically dependent on something habit-forming

  • adept

    having or showing knowledge and skill and aptitude

  • adequate

    having the requisite qualities or resources to meet a task

  • admirable

    inspiring approval

  • admiring
  • admonished
  • adorable

    lovable especially in a childlike or naive way

  • adored

    regarded with deep or rapturous love

  • adoring

    extravagantly or foolishly loving and indulgent

  • adorned

    provided with something intended to increase its beauty or distinction

  • adrift

    afloat on the surface of a body of water

  • adroit

    quick or skillful or adept in action or thought

  • adult

    a fully developed person from maturity onward

  • adulterated

    mixed with impurities

  • advanced

    situated ahead or going before

  • adventurous

    willing to undertake new and daring enterprises

  • adverse

    in an opposing direction

  • affable

    diffusing warmth and friendliness

  • affection

    a positive feeling of liking

  • Affirmed

    thoroughbred that won the triple crown in 1978

  • over and over

    repeatedly

  • affray

    a noisy fight

  • affronted
  • aflutter

    excited in anticipation

  • agonist

    someone involved in a contest or battle (as in an agon)

  • agape

    with the mouth wide open as in wonder or awe

  • aggravated

    made more severe or intense especially in law

  • aggrieve

    cause to feel sorrow

  • aghast

    struck with fear, dread, or consternation

  • agitated

    physically disturbed or set in motion

  • aglow

    softly bright or radiant

  • agnostic

    a person who claims the existence of God is unknowable

  • agog

    highly excited

  • agony

    intense feelings of suffering; acute mental or physical pain

  • agoraphobic

    suffering from agoraphobia

  • agreeable

    conforming to your own liking or feelings or nature

  • ahead

    at or in the front

  • acyl halide

    organic compounds containing the group -COX where X is a halogen atom

  • aimless

    drifting without direction

  • airy

    open to or abounding in fresh atmosphere

  • alert

    warn or arouse to a sense of danger

  • alien

    from another place or part of the world

  • allied

    joined by treaty or agreement

  • allow

    make it possible for something to happen

  • allow

    make it possible for something to happen

  • allure

    the power to entice or attract

  • alluring

    highly attractive and able to arouse hope or desire

  • aloof

    remote in manner

  • almighty

    having unlimited power

  • alright

    in a satisfactory or adequate manner

  • altruistic

    showing unselfish concern for the welfare of others

  • amateur

    someone who pursues a study or sport as a pastime

  • ambitious

    having a strong desire for success or achievement

  • ambivalent

    uncertain or unable to decide about what course to follow

  • ambush

    concealing yourself and lying in wait to attack by surprise

  • amenable

    disposed or willing to comply

  • amiable

    diffusing warmth and friendliness

  • amorous

    inclined toward or displaying love

  • amused

    pleasantly occupied

  • amusing

    providing enjoyment; pleasantly entertaining

  • analyzed

    examined carefully and methodically

  • anarchistic

    of or related to anarchism or tending toward anarchism

  • anchor

    a mechanical device that prevents a vessel from moving

  • anemic

    relating to or having a deficiency of red blood cells

  • anesthetized
  • Angst
  • Angst
  • anguished

    experiencing intense pain especially mental pain

  • acetonic

    of or relating to acetone

  • annihilated

    destroyed completely

  • annoying

    causing irritation

  • anonymous

    having no known name or identity or known source

  • antagonistic