Blog Grammar Rules Best Adjectives to Describe a Person

Best Adjectives to Describe a Person

Hannah Yang

Hannah Yang

Speculative Fiction Author

Published Sep 01, 2022

Adjectives cover

The right adjective can change the way your reader views you (or the person you're writing about) completely. If you're describing your own traits in a cover or admissions letter, it's easy to fall into the trap for using the same words on repeat (you can only be so proactive and hard-working, after all).

If you're a fiction writer, you might want to use adjectives to bring your characters to life. Whether your character is cynical and curmudgeonly or bubbly and sweet, you need to find the right words to show your readers who they are.

If you’re looking for those perfect words, you’ve come to the right place. This article will give you a list of useful adjectives for describing people—including yourself—in your writing.

  1. Why Are Descriptive Adjectives Important?
  2. What Are the Best Adjectives to Describe a Person’s Appearance and Style?
  3. What Are the Best Adjectives to Describe a Person’s Stature and Physique?
  4. What Are the Best Negative, Neutral, and Positive Adjectives to Describe a Person’s Personality?
  5. How Should You Use Adjectives in Your Writing?

Why Are Descriptive Adjectives Important?

Adjectives are called "describing words" for a reason. They bring your descriptions to life by adding details and specificity to your writing.

If you want to improve your adjectives, ProWritingAid’s Thesaurus Report highlights the adjectives in your text so you can check them at a glance. Each highlight offers suggestions for alternatives, so you can avoid overusing the same words.

What Are the Best Adjectives to Describe a Person’s Appearance and Style?

Adjectives used to describe style and appearance

  • Chic: fashionable and elegant

  • Classy: sophisticated and expensive

  • Cute: attractive in an endearing way

  • Disheveled: untidy and disordered

  • Dowdy: unfashionable and without style

  • Drab: dull and lacking brightness

  • Eclectic: inspired by a diverse range of ideas

  • Edgy: experimental or avant-garde

  • Effete: over refined and intellectual

  • Elegant: pleasingly graceful

  • Ethereal: delicate and light

  • Flamboyant: excessive, larger than life

  • Gauche: gaudy, lacking grace

  • Glamorous: dazzling and alluring

  • Homely: unattractive in appearance

  • Minimalistic: stark, stripped down to the basics

  • Modest: simple and conventional

  • Polished: refined and cultivated

  • Romantic: soft and feminine, vintage-inspired

  • Rumpled: disheveled or creased

  • Scruffy: shabby and untidy

  • Sensible: practical and functional rather than decorative

  • Sexy: seductive and alluring

  • Spartan: showing indifference to comfort or luxury

  • Swanky: stylishly luxurious and expensive

  • Trendy: very fashionable and up to date

  • Vibrant: full of energy and color

What Are the Best Adjectives to Describe a Person’s Stature and Physique?

Adjectives to describe stature and physique

  • Bony: so thin that the bones are prominent

  • Buff: in great physical shape

  • Buxom: plump, heavy-breasted

  • Chiseled: strong and clearly defined

  • Curvaceous: having an attractively curved shape

  • Dwarfish: small in stature

  • Gaunt: lean and haggard

  • Lithe: thin, supple, and graceful

  • Heavyset: stocky and stout

  • Lanky: tall and slim in an ungraceful or clumsy way

  • Lean: slim and thin

  • Paunchy: having a large or protruding belly

  • Petite: attractively small and dainty

  • Plump: full and rounded

  • Rotund: stout or round

  • Statuesque: attractively tall and dignified

  • Stocky: broad and sturdily built

  • Stout: strong and thick

  • Svelte: slender and elegant

  • Sylphlike: slender and graceful

  • Squat: short and thickset

  • Towering: much taller than the norm

  • Voluptuous: curvaceous and sexually attractive

  • Willowy: gracefully thin

  • Wiry: lean, tough, and sinewy

  • Zaftig: having a full, rounded figure

What Are the Best Negative, Neutral, and Positive Adjectives to Describe a Person’s Personality?

Adjectives to describe a friendly person

  • Affable: easy to talk to

  • Aloof: cool and distant

  • Ambitious: determined to succeed

  • Amiable: friendly and pleasant

  • Arrogant: haughty and self-important

  • Audacious: willing to take bold risks

  • Bashful: reluctant to draw attention to oneself

  • Bellicose: aggressive and willing to fight

  • Belligerent: hostile and antagonistic

  • Bighearted: kind and generous

  • Blithe: casual and cheerful

  • Boastful: proud and bragging

  • Boisterous: energetic and noisy

  • Boorish: rough and bad-mannered

  • Bossy: domineering and overbearing

  • Calculating: scheming and shrewd

  • Callous: insensitive and cruel

  • Carefree: unworried and untroubled

  • Charming: pleasant and likable

  • Chatty: fond of talking

  • Cheerful: happy and optimistic

  • Childlike: having good qualities associated with youth

  • Chirpy: cheerful and lively

  • Churlish: rude and surly

  • Clumsy: awkward in movement or handling things

  • Conceited: excessively vain

Adjectives for a bad tempered person

  • Condescending: patronizing and snobbish

  • Confident: self-assured

  • Convivial: cheerful and friendly

  • Coquettish: flirtatious and playful

  • Cowardly: lacking courage

  • Coy: making a pretense of shyness to be alluring

  • Crass: lacking sensitivity or refinement

  • Creepy: causing an unpleasant feeling of unease

  • Cruel: willfully causing pain to others

  • Cunning: crafty and wily

  • Deceitful: dishonest and insincere

  • Deferential: respectful and humble

  • Devoted: loyal and loving

  • Devout: pious and religious

  • Diplomatic: talented at dealing with people politely

  • Disagreeable: unpleasant and bad-tempered

  • Disdainful: contemptuous and scornful

  • Domineering: asserting one’s will over others

  • Dull: boring and uninteresting

  • Earnest: serious and sincere

  • Easygoing: relaxed and even-tempered

  • Ebullient: cheerful and full of energy

  • Egotistical: excessively conceited or self-absorbed

  • Enchanting: delightful and charming

  • Energetic: lively and high-spirited

  • Evasive: dodgy and unresponsive

  • Excitable: too easily excited

  • Exuberant: filled with energy and excitement

  • Faithful: loyal and steadfast

  • Fervid: enthusiastic and passionate

Adjectives for an aggressive person

  • Fierce: forceful and aggressive

  • Formidable: inspiring fear or respect

  • Freewheeling: disregarding of rules or conventions

  • Gallant: brave and heroic

  • Garrulous: talkative and wordy

  • Generous: kind and giving

  • Genial: friendly and cheerful

  • Gentle: mild and kind

  • Gluttonous: greedy and insatiable

  • Graceful: stylish and elegant

  • Gregarious: sociable and outgoing

  • Grouchy: irritable and bad-tempered

  • Guarded: cautious and reserved

  • Gullible: easily persuaded to believe something

  • Heroic: brave and noble

  • Honorable: moral and principled

  • Hotheaded: impetuous and quick to anger

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  • Hypercritical: excessively critical

  • Imaginative: showing creativity or inventiveness

  • Immature: childish and juvenile

  • Impertinent: rude, not showing proper respect

  • Imperturbable: calm and unflappable

  • Indolent: idle and lazy

  • Industrious: diligent and hard-working

  • Innocent: young and pure

  • Intrepid: fearless and adventurous

  • Irascible: easily angered

  • Irresponsible: careless and reckless

  • Jealous: defensive and protective

  • Jittery: nervous and unable to relax

  • Jocular: humorous and playful

  • Jolly: happy and cheerful

  • Jovial: cheerful and friendly

  • Kooky: strange and eccentric

  • Lazy: unwilling to work

  • Lethargic: sluggish and slow

  • Levelheaded: calm and sensible

  • Loathsome: repulsive and disgusting

  • Loutish: uncouth and aggressive

  • Lovable: inspiring love or affection

  • Magnanimous: generous or forgiving

  • Manipulative: scheming and calculating

  • Mature: responsible and levelheaded

  • Meddlesome: fond of interfering

  • Mellow: imperturbable and even-tempered

  • Mendacious: lying and dishonest

  • Mercurial: volatile and capricious

  • Misanthropic: antisocial and reclusive

  • Mischievous: naughty and misbehaving

  • Miserly: reluctant to spend money

  • Modest: humble and self-deprecating

  • Moody: temperamental and emotional

  • Morose: sullen and ill-tempered

  • Naïve: inexperienced and innocent

  • Narcissistic: vain and self-loving

  • Nosy: prying and inquisitive

  • Oafish: stupid and uncultured

  • Obedient: compliant and acquiescent

  • Obnoxious: unpleasant and irritating

  • Obsequious: obedient and attentive

  • Obstinate: stubborn and headstrong

  • Odious: revolting and repugnant

  • Opinionated: having strong opinions

  • Optimistic: hopeful and confident about the future

  • Outgoing: friendly and social

  • Outspoken: frank in stating one’s opinions

  • Passionate: showing strong feelings

  • Passive: submissive and unresisting

  • Patient: tolerant and long-suffering

  • Patronizing: helpful in a superior or condescending way

  • Peculiar: strange or odd

  • Pensive: thoughtful and contemplative

  • Petulant: childishly sulky or bad-tempered

  • Placid: not easily upset or excited

  • Playful: lighthearted and fond of games

  • Pugnacious: quick to argue

  • Pusillanimous: timid and cowardly

  • Quarrelsome: argumentative

  • Querulous: whining and petulant

  • Quixotic: impractically idealistic

  • Ravishing: gorgeous and entrancing

  • Rebellious: showing a desire to resist authority

  • Reckless: careless and thoughtless

Adjectives for a happy person

  • Reclusive: avoiding the company of other people

  • Respectable: regarded by society to be good and proper

  • Reticent: reluctant to reveal one’s thoughts or feelings

  • Sadistic: deriving pleasure from inflicting suffering

  • Sanguine: optimistic and cheerful

  • Sardonic: grimly mocking or cynical

  • Sassy: lively and cheeky

  • Saturnine: slow and gloomy

  • Shrewd: sharp-witted and astute

  • Sickly: often ill

  • Sincere: wholehearted and genuine

  • Sociable: friendly and affable

  • Spunky: courageous and determined

  • Stingy: unwilling to give or spend

  • Studious: spending a lot of time studying or reading

  • Surly: bad-tempered and unfriendly

  • Tactless: insensitive and inconsiderate

  • Tetchy: bad-tempered and irritable

  • Timid: easily frightened

  • Truculent: aggressively defiant

  • Trusting: unsuspicious, gullible

  • Unctuous: excessively flattering and fawning

  • Unreliable: irresponsible and undependable

  • Vain: conceited and self-loving

  • Verbose: fond of using a lot of words

  • Vicious: deliberately cruel or violent

  • Vivacious: attractively lively and animated

  • Voracious: eager and insatiable

  • Vulnerable: susceptible to physical or emotional harm

  • Wicked: evil or morally wrong

  • Wily: shrewd and clever

  • Witty: humorous and quick

  • Winsome: attractive or appealing

  • Youthful: young or seeming young

  • Zany: unconventional and idiosyncratic

  • Zealous: fervent and passionate

How Should You Use Adjectives in Your Writing?

Now you have a list of adjectives you can refer to when you’re describing people in your stories and essays. Using different adjectives will make your characters jump off the page as they come to life in your reader’s mind.

Once you’re done with your story, run it through ProWritingAid’s Echo and Repeats Checker to see if you’re using any adjectives too often.

Screenshot of ProWritingAid's repeat checker

Do you have any favorite adjectives? Let us know in the comments.

Try it with a free ProWritingAid account.

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Hannah Yang

Hannah Yang

Speculative Fiction Author

Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.

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Wow, that was deep. What an amazing list, by the way.
Thank you so much for your comment! We're glad you enjoyed the list. :)

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