Sometimes it’s fun being bad. Other times, however, you might be looking for a strew of colorful adjectives that convey just how bad someone else is.
Whether you’re trying to describe the antagonists of your own life or your manuscript, accurately describing characters (both naughty and nice) requires creative adjectives that convey that personality.
Using positive and negative adjectives can help you to effectively express your thoughts and help your audience to better understand your subject.
Describing Personality with Adjectives
Every adjective can evoke a number of feelings, both good and bad. This makes it really important to choose your words carefully and consider their connotation, since even slightly similar words can carry quite different meanings.
Adjectives that Describe Negative Personality
There are lots of adjectives you can use to describe a negative personality. Knowing a few of them can be handy not only in writing but also in conversations, where it is important to give an accurate account of a person.
Here are a few adjectives you can use that will also help to establish tone in your writing.
Download a PDF of our list of negative personality adjectives for quick reference.
More Negative Personality Adjectives
- The math teacher is quite grumpy as she hands back the low-scoring exams.
- I don’t know how they’ll manage with that budget for the wedding; you know how frivolous she is with her spending.
- Her successor was regarded as a bitter and angry woman.
- The greedy politician was somehow elected to serve another term.
- She’s so conceited that she never even thinks about how others feel.
Examples from Literature
Veronica Roth’s Divergent
In Divergent, Tris was bullied and almost thrown off a ledge to her death after being seen as a threat. One of the people who tried to kill her actually turned out to be one of her friends. Although she survived, she couldn’t bring herself to forgive him and even threatened to kill him. The next day, his body was found from under the Chasm.
"This is ridiculous," she says, flushing.
"He throws himself off a ledge and Eric's calling it brave?
Eric, who tried to have you throw knives at Al's head?"
Her face contorts.
"He wasn't brave! He was depressed and a coward,
and he almost killed me! Is that the kind of thing we respect here?"
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
In this excerpt from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry was unfortunate enough to come across Argus Filch and his cat Mrs. Norris.
"Right," said Harry, backing away from the accusing stare of
Mrs. Norris, but not quickly enough.
Drawn to the spot by the mysterious power that seemed to connect him
with his foul cat, Argus Filch burst suddenly through a tapestry to Harry's right, wheezing and looking wildly about for the rule-breaker.
There was a thick tartan scarf bound around his head,
and his nose was unusually purple.
Negative Personality Adjectives
Making use of the appropriate adjectives will impact not only the person you’re speaking about, but also those you’re speaking to.
Using the right words to describe a character, or even a real person, will help your readers or the people around you better relate to what you’re saying.
Do you know any literary works out there that efficiently described their characters using adjectives? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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