Adjectives to Describe a Person

People vary in terms of their physical appearance and personalities, and the words that are used to describe them are just as varied. Some words are better suited to describing the physical appearance of someone, some are best used to describe the person’s style, and others are ideal for describing the person’s character traits. It is important to have these words in your written and spoken vocabulary because you may, at some point in your life, face a situation that requires you to describe someone.




  1. Personality

Personality means an individual’s tendencies to behave, think, and react in a particular way. Most sociologists agree that personalities come about from the cultures and families in which people are raised.

  • Calm: Serene, Someone who has a calm personality does not get agitated or upset easily.
    • Example: Sona’s calm, cool personality makes her the ideal leader for the hiking team.
    • Related adjectives: serene, tranquil, unagitated

 

  • Arrogant: Consumed with self-importance. Someone who is arrogant thinks too highly of him/herself and thinks very little about the opinions of others. Arrogant people are often disliked by others.
    • Example: He was so arrogant that he neglected to take heed to the warnings of the locals that a trek up the mountain was dangerous.

 

  • Humble: Meek, considerate of others, acknowledging of one’s limitations.
    • Example: The humble librarian won the respect of all the library users.
    • Related adjectives: meek, mildmodest

 

  • Eccentric: Eccentric personalities are out of the box. They are unusual and often strange in the eyes of others.
    • Example: Donahue was so eccentric that even the few friends he had, had trouble keeping up with him.
    • Related adjectives: bizarre, outre, nonconcentric

 

  • Charismatic: The ability to effortlessly winning the affections of others.
    • Example: Even though Calvin was new to the school, his charismatic ways soon won over most of the students and this was the main reason he won the race for class president.
    • Related adjectives: magnetic
  1. Style

A person’s style is really their way of dressing, and the way they carry themselves. Personality plays a significant role in determining style. As with personality therefore, there are many different words that can be used to describe style. Some of them are explored in this section.

  • Flamboyant: Having a preference for the fashionably glamorous and expensive things. A flamboyant style is also known as a larger than life approach. People with this personality are extremely excessive in their search for attention, the limelight, and fashion.
    • Example: The flamboyant new office attendant got the attention of everyone each time she stepped into the office decked out in a trendy new outfit.
    • Related adjectives: aureate, florid

 

  • Chic: Fashionably current. A chic style is usually simple, unique, and fashionable all at the same time.
    • Example: Carmen has always been a chic fashion enthusiast, so her decision to choose a career in this field did not surprise anyone.
    • Related adjectives: voguish, smart, stylish, fashionable

 

  • Eclectic: possessing a style that is inspired by varying ideas and cultures.
    • Example: The eclectic world history teacher never ceased to amaze his students with new and culturally diverse wardrobe items.

 

  • Modest: Simple and conventional. The opposite of flamboyant or risqué. Someone with a modest style usually go for the simple.
    • Example: The two girls couldn’t be more different in style with Samantha having a flair for the extravagant and Samara being
    • Related adjectives: humble

 

  1. Nationality/ethnic background

Nationality is the nation or country to which someone belongs to. Ethnic background is essentially the Ethnic group (such as Asian, Caucasian, etc…) to which an individual belongs. The rules of English state that adjectives that fall in this category should be capitalized. The exceptions to this rule are ethnicity adjectives that refer to color. The first four examples in this section are nationality adjectives while the other two are ethnicity adjectives.

  • Hungarian: A national of Hungary
    • Example: Bernadett is Hungarian, but her husband isn’t.

 

  • Ethiopian: Possessing Ethiopian citizenship.
    • Example: Our new foreign exchange student is Ethiopian and very proud of his heritage and culture.

 

  • British: Belonging to Britain
    • Example: The British model brought global attention to world hunger when she volunteered to spend three months delivering food to starving children.

 

  • American: Belonging to America. This word usually refers to citizens of the United States of America and not to those who live in South America. Citizens of South America are usually referred to by using adjectives that come from the name of their countries and in general, are called South Americans.
    • Example: The American driver won a race.

 

  • Hispanic: This word is used to describe the ethnic identity of persons from Spanish speaking countries.
    • Example: The Hispanic instructor was so great that all his students begged for longer, more frequent lessons.

 

  • Caucasian: This word typically refers to members of the white race.
    • Example: The reporter identified the Good Samaritan as a Caucasian male in his late fifties.

 

  • Black: Belonging to the race that originated in Africa characterized by dark or brown complexion and curly hair.
    • Example: The quartet was racially even, with two black singers and two white ones.
  1. Physical Appearance

Physical appearance is self-explanatory. It includes aspects of an individual that others can see, hear, and feel, such as hair, height, and shape. Each aspect has its own set of suitable descriptive words. This section explores some of those words. The focus for this section will be words that describe the physical appearance of people.

      4.a Hair: The texture and color of an individual’s hair is determined, to a great extent by his/her ethnicity. Nowadays however, a lot of methods are used to change hair color and texture. The words below describe the physical appearance of human hair.

  • Straight: Consisting of elongated strands with no curves. Naturally straight hair is associated with persons who are Caucasian, Asian, or Indian. Persons with straight hair achieve curly hair by using different styling methods and tools.
    • Example: She had long flowing straight hair that danced beautifully on windy days.

 

  • Curly: Consisting of several curves. Some Indians and Caucasians may have curly hair, but this type of hair is most popular with individuals of African descent. Curly hair can be straightened temporarily to achieve a different look.
    • Example: His curly hair fell messily on his forehead, creating an almost artistic noodle-like arrangement against his skin.

 

  • Cropped: Cut short to embrace the face.  Cropped hair is cut close to the scalp and is a unisex hairstyle which means that it suits both men and women.
    • Example: Her short cropped hair formed a perfect frame for her heart-shaped face.

 

  • Black: Having a completely dark color. Often described as the absence of light or the opposite of white. This hair color is the most popular natural human hair color.
    • Example: Her black hair was swept into an elaborate upsweep that wowed everyone at the pageant.

 

  • Auburn: A variety of red hair that is a cross between brown and red.
    • Example: She brushed her silky auburn hair behind her ear and smiled sheepishly at him.

 

  • Blonde: A yellowish hair color. This hair color comes in a variety of yellow or gold shades which range from rich or heavy to light. This word is often used to describe a woman who has hair of this color. Men’s hair can also be described as blond.
    • Example: She bowed her head and started to pray; all they could see was a mop of light blonde hair neatly arranged on her head and effectively masking her face.

 

  • Brunette: Dark brown hair. This word is used to describe a woman who has this type of hair.
    • Example: The amicable, tall brunette contestant stood out among all her blonde counterparts.

 

      4.b Height: Some height adjectives, such as monumental, are unsuitable for descriptions of people. However, below are some height adjectives that are appropriate for descriptions of people.

  • Towering: Much taller than the norm. Someone who is described as towering tends to be so tall, that he or she has to look down at others.
    • Example: His towering physique made him attractive to recruiters for basketball teams.

 

  • Tapering: In referring to height this word means very tall and thin. It is similar to towering, but is not as popular in use. Be careful in using it however, as it does have another meaning. In describing other things, it carries the meaning; diminishing or lessening.
    • Example: The tiny baby boy soon grew into a tapering, well-groomed young man.

 

  • Lanky: Very tall and slim in an unappealing or clumsy way. This word is often used to describe someone in a negative way.
    • Example: I carefully glanced at the reflection in the store window and realized that my stalker was a lanky, greasy haired man who seemed to be in his forties.

 

  • Squat: Short and thickset. This word is used to describe someone who is short.
    • Example: She looked down at him from the balcony and was bemused at how unusually squat he appeared from that angle.

 

  • Dwarfish: small in stature. This word helps to create an image of a person who is extremely short, like a dwarf.
    • Example: She smiled after glimpsing at his dwarfish figure running away from mischief.

      4.c Shapes: Another area in which human beings differ is the shape of their bodies. Shape adjectives help to create clear and visual images of the physical appearance of people. Some shape adjectives are more suitable to a particular gender as the examples below will illustrate.

  • Curvaceous: Possessing attractive curves. This word is suitable for describing females who have attractive physiques.
    • Example: Her curvaceous physique awed everyone as she strutted on the catwalk.

 

  • Chiseled: Prominently outlined. This word is most appropriate for the description of a man’s face, especially his jaw line. It is also used to describe well-developed muscles of an athlete or fitness pro.
    • Example: Her firm and chiseled calves, which made her the envy of all her friends, were the products of years and years of hard work in the gym.

 

  • Rotund: Having a plump or round shape.
    • Example: A rotund police officer continuously glared at them through the window, making them feel extremely guilty.

 

  • Plump: Round in shape or fat.
    • Example: The terminally ill patient was accompanied to her bed by a plump, kind nurse who made her feel relaxed and safe.

 

  1. Characteristics and Traits

A part of what makes each individual unique is his or her characteristics and traits. People’s characteristics or traits become clear when they speak, act, and interact with others. The things that are habitually said and done help to determine someone’s characteristic or trait. These attributes are most adequately described by using adjectives such as the ones in this section.

  • Clever: Very smart. Some other words for clever are; shrewd or witty.
    • Example: There was no need to worry as the experienced and clever technician was able to figure out the problem almost immediately.

 

  • Generous: Kind and considerate of others.
    • Example: The fire victims were offered food and clothing by a generous community member who heard about their plight.

 

  • Mysterious: Difficult to understand. Seemingly secretive
    • Example: The most intriguing part of the novel was the mysterious stranger who appeared suddenly in the town.

 

  • Creative: Talented when it comes to finding new solutions, fixing things, or coming up with novel ideas.
    • Example: The ideal candidate for the position is a creative, multi-tasker who has excellent people skills.

 

  • Flexible: Open to and accepting of changes. Easily adaptable to new situations and environments.
    • Example: The new principal was flexible enough to allow for some very novel changes in the way the school is run, such as the introduction of student-led days where the students and teachers switched roles temporarily.

 

For a list of adjectives by starting letter please use the following list:

 

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