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Descriptive Adjectives

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9 February 2024

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Sometimes your writing needs a little extra sparkle, and descriptive adjectives can help with that. When used effectively, they can enhance description and characterisation.

Of course, stuffing adjectives into your work could also end in boring, exaggerated writing (or what some people like to call purple prose). Likewise, vague adjectives can feel abstract in nature, making it difficult for readers to imagine your world and the characters in it. Strive for descriptive adjectives that provide specificity. Because detail is what will captivate your readers and get them to engage with the story.

So, What Exactly is a Descriptive Adjective?

Descriptive adjectives describe nouns, providing more information about their characteristics, like size, colour or condition. They add detail, so readers can better visualise your world. Imagine one of your characters lives in a bleak house, tangerine house or tiny house, for example.

Here are a few more examples:

  • The dog stared up at the cloudless sky.
  • They came to an abandoned farm surrounded by marsh.
  • He wore a tunic and trousers under a long leather coat.

List of Descriptive Adjectives

Now, let’s dive into my curated list of adjectives that can strengthen the descriptions of your universe and its characters.

A

  • accurate
  • admired
  • affectionate
  • aggressive
  • alert
  • alive
  • amazing
  • anchored
  • ancient
  • anxious
  • authentic

B

  • baggy
  • bare
  • basic
  • bitter
  • bland
  • blank
  • blind
  • blushing
  • boilng
  • bold
  • bright
  • brittle
  • broken
  • bruised
  • bulky

C

  • calm
  • careless
  • charming
  • cheap
  • clean
  • clear
  • cloudy
  • cluttered
  • coarse
  • cold
  • concrete
  • corrupt
  • creamy
  • crisp
  • crushing

D

  • dainty
  • damp
  • dapper
  • daring
  • deadly
  • deafening
  • decadent
  • deep
  • defiant
  • dependable
  • desolate
  • determined
  • direct
  • diverse
  • divine
  • drab
  • dramatic
  • dreamy
  • dreary
  • dull
  • dynamic

E

  • eager
  • earthy
  • easy
  • edible
  • eerie
  • elaborate
  • elastic
  • elderly
  • electric
  • elusive
  • empty
  • enamoured
  • endless
  • enraged
  • eruptive
  • essential
  • ethical
  • exhausted
  • exotic

F

  • faint
  • fancy
  • fast
  • fearless
  • fierce
  • fiery
  • flashy
  • flawless
  • flourishing
  • fluffy
  • forceful
  • fragrant
  • fresh
  • friendly
  • frigid
  • funky

G

  • generous
  • genuine
  • gentle
  • giant
  • giddy
  • glamorous
  • glaring
  • gleaming
  • gleeful
  • glittering
  • gloomy
  • glorious
  • glowing
  • golden
  • graceful
  • gracious
  • grand
  • grateful
  • gripping
  • grim
  • grounded
  • growing
  • gusty

H

  • handsome
  • hard
  • harsh
  • hasty
  • hateful
  • healthy
  • heavy
  • hideous
  • hoarse
  • hollow
  • homely
  • hot
  • humble
  • hungry
  • husky

I

  • idle
  • immaculate
  • immense
  • impartial
  • imperfect
  • informal
  • indolent
  • insistent

J

  • jaded
  • jagged
  • jarring
  • jerky
  • jiggling
  • jittery
  • joint
  • jolly
  • juicy
  • jumpy

K

  • keen
  • kind
  • kinetic
  • knobbed
  • knotty
  • knotted
  • kooky

L

  • lame
  • lavish
  • lazy
  • lean
  • legendary
  • light-hearted
  • limp
  • little
  • livid
  • logical
  • lofty
  • long
  • loquacious
  • loyal
  • lovely
  • lucid
  • luminous
  • lush
  • luxurious

M

  • mad
  • magnificent
  • majestic
  • major
  • marvelous
  • massive
  • mature
  • meager
  • mean
  • meaty
  • medium
  • meek
  • mellow
  • menacing
  • messy
  • metallic
  • mild
  • milky
  • mindless
  • miniature
  • minor
  • minty
  • miserable
  • miserly
  • misty
  • mixed
  • modern
  • modest
  • moist
  • monstrous
  • monumental
  • muddy
  • mundane
  • murky
  • mushy
  • musty
  • muted

N

  • nasty
  • neat
  • necessary
  • nervous
  • neutral
  • new
  • nice
  • nimble
  • noisy
  • normal
  • notable

O

  • observant
  • obsolete
  • obtuse
  • odd
  • oily
  • old
  • open
  • optimistic
  • ornate
  • outstanding
  • overcast
  • overjoyed

P

  • patient
  • pensive
  • persistent
  • petty
  • playful
  • pleasant
  • powerful
  • practical
  • precious
  • prickly
  • pungent

Q

  • quaint
  • qualified
  • quick
  • quiet
  • quirky

R

  • radiant
  • ragged
  • rapid
  • rare
  • raw
  • real
  • reasonable
  • reckless
  • rectangular
  • regal
  • regular
  • reliable
  • remarkable
  • remorseful
  • remote
  • repulsive
  • rich
  • rigid
  • ripe
  • roasted
  • robust
  • rosy
  • rotating
  • rotten
  • rough
  • round
  • rowdy
  • royal
  • rubbery
  • ruddy
  • rundown
  • runny
  • rural
  • rusty

S

  • sad
  • safe
  • salty
  • sandy
  • sane
  • scaly
  • scarce
  • scratchy
  • scrawny
  • separate
  • serene
  • serious
  • several
  • severe
  • shabby
  • shadowy
  • shady
  • shallow
  • sharp
  • shimmering
  • shiny
  • short
  • shrill
  • shy
  • sick
  • silent
  • silky
  • simple
  • sinful
  • single
  • sizzling
  • skeletal
  • skinny
  • sleepy
  • slight
  • slim
  • slimy
  • slippery
  • slow
  • slushy
  • small
  • smart
  • smoggy
  • smooth
  • smug
  • snappy
  • sneaky
  • sociable
  • soft
  • soggy
  • solid
  • somber
  • sore
  • sorrowful
  • soulful
  • sour
  • sparkling
  • sparse
  • specific
  • speedy
  • spherical
  • spicy
  • spirited
  • spiteful
  • splendid
  • spotless
  • spotted
  • square
  • squeaky
  • squiggly
  • stable
  • stained
  • stale
  • standard
  • starchy
  • stark
  • starry
  • steel
  • steep
  • sticky
  • stiff
  • stingy
  • stormy
  • straight
  • strange
  • strict
  • striking
  • strong
  • sturdy
  • subdued
  • submissive
  • substantial
  • subtle
  • superior
  • supportive
  • sweaty
  • sweet
  • sweltering
  • swift

T

  • tall
  • tender
  • tense
  • thick
  • thin
  • tight
  • tiny
  • tired
  • torn

U

  • unkempt
  • upbeat
  • upright
  • unwieldy
  • useful

V

  • vacant
  • vague
  • vain
  • vast
  • vibrant
  • vicious
  • violent

W

  • warm
  • wary
  • weak
  • weepy
  • wet
  • wide
  • wild
  • windy
  • wise
  • worn
  • wretched

    Y

    • yearning
    • young
    • youthful

    Z

    • zany
    • zestful

    GET MORE INSPIRATION

    Descriptive adjectives can turn bland writing into interesting prose. But, choose them with caution and always make sure they’re providing necessary detail. Remember, descriptive adjectives can provide specifics, but too many can result in purple prose. Strike a balance and 

    Want more writing inspiration? Find tips, tricks and ideas over on the blog.

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    Written By Eira Edwards

    Eira is a writer and editor from the South of England with over five years of experience as a Content Manager, helping clients perfect their copy.

    She has a degree in English Literature and Language, which she loves putting to work by working closely with fiction authors.

    When she’s not working on manuscripts, you can find her in the woods with her partner and dog, or curling up with a good book.

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