400+ Opinion Adjectives: A Word List for Writers

Opinion Adjectives: Good? Bad?

Songwriters have composed lyrics about loving arms, lying eyes, and cheating hearts. But can arms love? Can eyes lie, or hearts cheat?

As used above, loving, lying, and cheating are opinion adjectives. They express the personal bias of a character or the narrator—a bias that may not be shared by everyone.

Imagine two judges at a dance competition. Judge A considers one dancer the best “danseur” since humans learned to walk. She describes him as fantastic, talented, and brilliant. Judge B, however, disagrees and refers to him as bumbling, amateurish, and clunky.

If narrative originates from Judge A’s point of view, readers will be positively influenced. But their opinions will be negative if Judge B’s POV is represented.

Writers often rely on opinion adjectives when referring to sentient beings. These adjectives might describe personalities or actions. They frequently anthropomorphize body parts.

Unfortunately, they have the potential to confuse point of view by revealing facts that a character of focus can’t feel or know.

Let’s review an example.

Kayla turned away. Max’s adoring eyes followed her seductive sashay. She responded with a supercilious curl of the lips.

Many editors would prefer adoring gaze, insisting that body parts such as eyes shouldn’t perform independent actions. However, readers will understand that Max adores Kayla and thinks she is seductive.

But are Kayla’s lips visible to Max? She’s walking away from him. If he could see them, would he interpret her expression as supercilious? The stereotypical male is clumsy at reading body language.

This example represents omniscient point of view, but modern readers and editors prefer first person or limited third person POV.

Let’s rewrite.

Kayla’s lips puckered into a sexy pout. She turned away. Max’s adoring gaze followed her seductive sashay.

Now readers will see an enamored Max, with no indication of Kayla’s reactions to his feelings. Is her pout truly meant to be sexy, or is she perhaps aggravated, exasperated, or impatient? Context can reveal her motivation.

Does double-double work? Or does it flop?

Consider the following phrases pulled from the next section.

Unfaithful two-timer
Doting adoration
Mournful lament
Angry glower

Do you see a problem?

Study the phrases again after reviewing the following definitions.

Two-time [verb]: to be unfaithful; to deceive

Dote [verb]: to adore, idolize

Lament [verb]: to mourn; to wail

Glower [verb]: to have an angry look on one’s face

Each phrase at the beginning of this section performs a double-double, starting with an opinion adjective that provides the same connotation as the word it modifies.

I’m not saying never include such phrases, but be aware of when and why you want them in your writing. If they suit your literary voice, go for it.

And be prepared for a tongue-lashing from some editors.

Words to Watch

The following words, when modified by opinion adjectives, provide nonspecific visuals—a good reason to avoid them. However, they might serve a purpose if you’re aiming for an atmosphere where the reader invents every mental image:

Attitude, behavior, body language, conduct, expression, face, feelings, gesture, look, manner, mood, nature, tone, et al.

What does amused body language look like? How about an angelic expression? Or a coquettish gesture?

A few opinion adjectives that modify people, their facial expressions, body parts, actions, or traits:

Eyes, fans, gaze, public, smile, spouse, suitor

Gaze, glance, grin, interest, response, smile, surprise, twinkle in the eyes

Back, body, feet, heart, muscles, pain, void in one’s stomach, wrist

Aura, dimples, glow of one’s face, sweetness of temper

Agitation, cry, exclamation, eyes, face, feelings, glance, glower, growl, mood, pacing, reprimand, roar of the crowd, scowl, shout, tears

Disregard, indifference, liar, sneer, thief

Cheating, unfaithful
Heart, flirt, gigolo, good-for-nothing, louse, parasite, sneak, two-timer

Fluttering of the eyelashes, grin, laugh, ploy, smile

Act, affection, evasion, eyes, kiss, promises, smile, tongue, vows, wiles

Grin, insult, jeer, laugh, remark, snort, stance

Exclamation, gaze, glare, noise, shake of one’s head, stare, voice

Beauty, charm, enchantment, honesty, personality, smile, wit

Adoration, affection, attention, demeanor, hugs, kisses, lover, worship

Beauty, body, charm, demeanor, figure, lips, physique, wiggle

Eyes, hunger, resentment, squint, thirst, urge, yearning

Evil, wicked
Chuckle, eyes, fingernails, heart, intention, leer, malevolence, malice, smile, spirit, thoughts

Actions, banter, comeback, comments, compliment, dare, glance, hello, matter, pickup line, remark, signals, smile, touch, vibe, voice, wave, wink

Admiration, affability, compassion, friendliness, heart, smile

Abandon, animosity, antagonism, conversation, grimace, hostility, jealousy, oppression, rancor, tyranny

Desire, eyes, fingers, gaze, heart, kiss, lust

Aloofness, body odor, cough, disdain, disregard, habits, jokes, noises, question, rash, voice

Anger, curl of the upper lip, fear, fury, lover, passion, pout, retort, snort, suspicion

Anger, bias, brows, eyes

Brute, caress, creature, disease, embrace, itch, jerk, kiss, varicose veins

Bride, contralto, couple, curls, ears, eyes, lass, neck, shoulders, smile, vibrato

Arms, embrace, eyes, gaze, hug, nuzzle, smile, whisper

Eyes, kindness, kisses, manipulation, schemer, vanity

Find more writing tips in
The Writer’s Lexicon and The Writer’s Lexicon Volume II.
Available in both digital and print editions.

Ex, greed, mouth, nose, witch

Bully, denunciation, glare, grip, growl, laugh, protest, reproach, shove, voice

Cry, dirge, eyes, howl, lament, pleasure, retreat, seclusion, silence, wail

Accusation, bits, cough, habit, headache, heartache, laugh, retort, suggestion, taste, temper

Arrogance, criticism, determination, deviousness, leadership, love, narcissism, partner, supervision, swashbuckler, voice, will

Appetite, cheeks, ears, eyes, grunt, nose, snort, snout, snuffle

Affectations, arrogance, eloquence, hairstyle, jerk, know-it-all, posturing, pretention, windbag, wiseacre, yawn, zeal

Comeback, frankness, grunt, regard, remark, reply

Air, curl of the lips, disapproval, hypocrisy, narcissism, pragmatism, smugness, speechifying, veganism, windbag

Seductive, sexy
Appeal, back, beauty, cleavage, eyes, glance, instinct, laugh, legs, lips, murmur, narcissism, physique, pout, purr, sashay, sensuousness, sway, voice, whisper

Arrogance, conceit, condescension, pomposity, pride, sniff, superiority, upturn of the nose

Flicker of the eyelashes, grin, leer, lift of one eyebrow, nod, pose, posture, remark, wink

Foreign accent, gaze, growl, lashes, purr, smile, updo, voice

Assumption, boasting, cunning, curl of the lips, grin, lift of the brow, snobbery, snort, superiority

Allure, aura, breath, disposition, docility, gaze, kiss, nature, scent, selflessness, smile, sorrow, voice

Affection, caring, eyes, glance, kiss, love, neck, possessiveness, sensitivity, smile, sympathy, tears, thoughtfulness

Birthmark, disposition, feet, gash, heart, knees, knuckles, mole, motive, mug, scar, snarl, tattoos, thoughts, wart, zit

More opinion adjectives:

Accepting, adaptable, adventurous, affable, affectionate, agreeable, aggressive, amateurish, ambitious, amiable, amicable, amoral, amusing, antagonistic, anxious, argumentative, arrogant, astute, audacious, awesome, awful, awkward

Bad, bad-tempered, beautiful, belligerent, benevolent, best, better, big-headed, bizarre, bland, blunt, boisterous, bold, bombastic, boorish, boring, bossy, brave, brilliant, broad-minded, brutal, bumbling, businesslike

Cantankerous, carefree, charismatic, childish, clever, clumsy, coarse, comfortable, compassionate, competent, compliant, conceited, confident, considerate, contentious, courageous, cordial, corrupt, courteous, cowardly, creative, crooked (dishonest), cunning

Daft, daring, debonair, decisive, degenerate, delectable, delicious, dependable, despicable, determined, devious, difficult, diligent, dim, diplomatic, disciplined, discreet, disgusting, doleful, droll, dynamic

Easygoing, eccentric, efficient, egotistical, emotional, empathetic, energetic, enigmatic, enthusiastic, envious, erratic, excellent, excitable, extraordinary, extreme, extroverted, exuberant

Fair-minded, faithful, fallible, fanatical, fantastic, far-sighted, fearless, fickle, flexible, focused, foolish, forceful, forgiving, formal, forthright, foul, frank, free-thinking, friendly, frugal, fun-loving, funny, fussy

Gallant, gauche, genial, generous, gentle, genuine, glamorous, gloomy, good-natured, gracious, great, greedy, gregarious, grim, grumpy, guileless, gullible

Harebrained, hardworking, haughty, hedonistic, helpful, helpless, heroic, high-handed, high-spirited, hilarious, honest, honorable, hostile, humble, humorous

Idealistic, impartial, immature, immoral, impolite, important, impudent, impulsive, indecent, independent, industrious, insensitive, inspired, intense, interesting, introspective, introverted, intuitive, inventive, irresponsible, irreverent

Keen, kind, kind-hearted, kinky, kittenish, knowledgeable, knuckle-headed

Lascivious, lazy, lecherous, lewd, liberal, libidinous, likeable, logical, lovely, luscious

Magnanimous, mature, maternal, mawkish, mean, meddlesome, mediocre, meek, mellow, mercenary, messy, methodical, meticulous, miserable, miserly, mistaken, modest, moody, morbid, mouthwatering, mystical

Naïve, narcissistic, narrow-minded, nasty, naughty, nauseating, needy, negative, neglectful, neurotic, nice, nihilistic, noncommittal, noncompetitive

Obnoxious, obsessive, odd, offensive, off-putting, old-fashioned, opinionated, opportunistic, optimistic, orderly, organized, outrageous, outspoken, overconfident, overwhelming

Passionate, patient, peculiar, perceptive, perky, persevering, persistent, pertinent, pessimistic, philosophical, plucky, polite, popular, practical, pragmatic, pretty, proud, prudent, prying, pugnacious

Quarrelsome, queer, quick-tempered, quick-witted, quiet, quirky

Randy, rational, raunchy, realistic, rebellious, reckless, reflective, reluctant, remarkable, repellant, repulsive, reserved, resourceful, responsible, responsive, restrained, retiring, reverential, revolting, romantic, rude

Salacious, scrummy, self-centered, self-confident, self-disciplined, selfish, sensible, sensitive, sentimental, serious, shady, shameful, shocking, short-tempered, shy, silly, sincere, smart, smutty, sociable, soft (lenient), sophisticated, spineless, splendid, stern, stingy, strange, stroppy, strict, stupid, suave, straightforward

Tactless, talented, talkative, tasty, taunting, temperamental, tenacious, testy, thoughtful, thoughtless, tight, timid, tolerant, torrid, tough, tractable, transparent, treacherous, truculent, trusting, trustworthy

Unaggressive, unambitious, unassuming, unattractive, uncomfortable, uncouth, unctuous, understanding, unethical, uninhibited, unkind, unpretentious, unprincipled, unrealistic, unstable, upbeat, uptight, urbane, useful, useless

Vacuous, vain, valorous, valuable, valued, venal, venomous, versatile, vindictive, virginal, virtuous, virulent, vitriolic, vituperative, vivacious, visionary, vital, volatile, vulgar, vulnerable

Warm-hearted, wasteful, weak-willed, weird, whimsical, willful, willing, wimpy, windy (long-winded), winning, wise, wishful, witty, wonderful, worse, worst, worthless, worthy

Yappy, yellow (cowardly), yielding, young-at-heart, yummy

Zaftig, zany, zealous, zesty, zingy, zippy, zonked

Do you have an opinion about opinion adjectives? 🙂

Find more writing tips in
The Writer’s Lexicon and The Writer’s Lexicon Volume II.
Available in both digital and print editions.

2 thoughts on “400+ Opinion Adjectives: A Word List for Writers

  1. Interesting post.

    In the ‘sexy pout’ sentence above, I see it as deep POV of Max. He is seeing the pout as sexy regardless of what makes Kayla pout.

    • You’re right, Helen. That’s why it remained in the rewritten version. It represents Max’s opinion. However, readers might see clues revealing that Kayla is aggravated, exasperated, or impatient.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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