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:

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

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

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

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

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

Callous
Disregard, indifference, liar, sneer, thief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forgiving
Admiration, affability, compassion, friendliness, heart, smile

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

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

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

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

Judgmental
Anger, bias, brows, eyes

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

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

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

Lying
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.

Meddling
Ex, greed, mouth, nose, witch

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rude
Comeback, frankness, grunt, regard, remark, reply

Sanctimonious
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More opinion adjectives:

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

B
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

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

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

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

F
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S
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

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

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

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

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

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

Z
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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