Feeling Words Study Guide

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Updated on Sep 20, 2011

Feeling Words

In this study guide, you'll learn new words to describe feelings and emotions. This will help you build a vocabulary inventory of words for these hard-to-describe experiences.

Probably the most common word search for speakers and writers is the hunt for the perfect word to express an emotion they're feeling. It happens to all of us at one time or another. We want to explain what or why we feel or think the way we do, but can't seem to find the right words to express our ideas.

Reread the quotation at the opening of this lesson by José Saramago. He's known for his use of very simple words, but as a writer, he also experiences the difficulty of finding the precise word to describe a particular emotion. There are thousands of words to choose from, and they can help us try to convey what we're thinking and feeling. That's what communication is, after all: the exchange, however imperfect, of facts, ideas, and emotions.

In this lesson, you'll learn some common and useful words for describing various emotions. As you read the list, write down any other words that pop into your head—words you use, or are not sure how to use, to describe feelings you've had.


Take time to look up new words in a dictionary. Once you've looked up a word, try to use it right away to make it a permanent part of your personal word bank.

Words That Describe Emotions and Feelings

1. apathetic. Lazy, uninterested, indifferent. The long, hot summer and the lack of friends nearby made the sisters bored and apathetic.
2. dejected. Sad, disappointed, pessimistic. The candidate was visibly dejected when it became clear he had lost the election.
3. ecstatic. Extraordinarily joyous. The winning candidate's ecstatic victory speech was greeted by cheers from the crowd of supporters.
4. elated. Delighted, pleased. Slightly less joyful than ecstatic, but showing great happiness. The kids were elated when their parents announced a spring trip to Disneyland.
5. frustrated. Disappointed or unhappy because of an inability to achieve a goal or fulfill a desire. John was frustrated by his inability to score higher on his math test, no matter how much time he spent studying for it.
6. humiliated. Strongly embarrassed. The figure skater was humiliated when, after landing a triple loop jump, she then tripped over her own skate laces.
7. lonely. Unhappy because of lack of access to other people; feeling empty. Spending the summer in the mountains was fun for the parents, but lonely for the kids, who missed their friends and sports activities.
8. melancholy. Extremely sad or depressed, for some period of time. Jane's melancholy was interrupted, finally, by the visit of her best friend and their plans for a trip together.
9. patriotic. Loving of one's country, a feeling often associated with unselfish sacrifice. The soldiers served their country with patriotic enthusiasm, despite the risks to their lives.
10. prudent. Cautious and practical in making decisions. The prudent climbers listened to the advice of their guide as they made their ascent up Mt. Everest.
11. timid. Exhibiting a lack of confidence, an extreme shyness. I was a bit timid about trying to ride a skateboard, but discovered that when I used caution, it was fun!
12. vindictive. Feeling a strong desire for revenge and to do harm to another. The class bully was vindictive and disruptive, which alarmed the other students and frustrated the teacher.

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Feeling Words Practice Exercises

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