400 Descriptive Words List to Make Your Writing Shine

Do you want to make your writing more engaging? Check out this descriptive words list with 400 words you can use today. 

As you strive to be a more engaging writer, using descriptive words can help. It's easy to over-use these words, but sprinkling them in here and there is a great way to colorize your writing.

Descriptive words are adjectives, which describe nouns and pronouns, or adverbs, which describe verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. Learning to both identify and use these will help you write stronger pieces. This descriptive words list is a good place to start.

Descriptive Words List: 400 Words to Make Your Writing More Colorful

Descriptive words list

Descriptive words take writing from boring to engaging. Consider this sentence:

  • She swam across the water.

While this tells you what is happening, it has little to help you imagine the scene. If you add some adjectives and adverbs and transform the statement to this:

  • She swam speedily across the choppy water.

Now you have a better picture of what happened. In order to transform your writing in this way, you need a number of descriptive words at the ready, and this list of descriptive words will help.

List of Descriptive Adjectives in English

Descriptive words list
Most common type of descriptive words are adjectives

Adjectives are the most common type of descriptive words, so first we will look at these. These words describe features like shape, texture, color, and size. They help differentiate between items in a group by calling out distinguishing features.

In English grammar, you can use the following to describe nouns and pronouns:

  1. Abandoned
  2. Abrupt
  3. Academic
  4. Acute
  5. Admirable
  6. Adorable
  7. Adventurous
  8. Acclaimed
  9. Accomplished
  10. Acrobatic
  11. Afraid
  12. Aggressive
  13. Alarmed
  14. Amused
  15. Ancient
  16. Angelic
  17. Angry
  18. Babyish
  19. Bad
  20. Baggy
  21. Beloved
  22. Bewitched
  23. Bitter
  24. Blank
  25. Bleak
  26. Blind
  27. Blushing
  28. Bored
  29. Bouncy
  30. Brave
  31. Bright
  32. Brilliant
  33. Buoyant
  34. Busy
  35. Buzzing
  36. Calm
  37. Carefree
  38. Careful
  39. Cautious
  40. Cavernous
  41. Charming
  42. Cheerful
  43. Chubby
  44. Classic
  45. Clean
  46. Clear
  47. Clever
  48. Cloudy
  49. Cluttered
  50. Clumsy
  51. Course
  52. Cold
  53. Colorful
  54. Comfortable
  55. Common
  56. Composed
  57. Concerning
  58. Confusing
  59. Creepy
  60. Cruel
  61. Cuddly
  62. Curious
  63. Curly
  64. Cute
  65. Damaged
  66. Dangerous
  67. Dark
  68. Dazzling
  69. Dear
  70. Decent
  71. Deep
  72. Defiant
  73. Delicious
  74. Demanding
  75. Dense
  76. Devoted
  77. Dim
  78. Dirty
  79. Disfigured
  80. Drab
  81. Dull
  82. Early
  83. Easy
  84. Easy-going
  85. Edible
  86. Elastic
  87. Elderly
  88. Electric
  89. Embellished
  90. Emotional
  91. Empty
  92. Enchanted
  93. Energetic
  94. Envious
  95. Enthusiastic
  96. Ethical
  97. Euphoric
  98. Everlasting
  99. Evil
  100. Exotic
  101. Exuberant
  102. Fashionable
  103. Faithful
  104. Famous
  105. Fancy
  106. Fantastic
  107. Fatal
  108. Fearful
  109. Female
  110. Filthy
  111. Firm
  112. Flat
  113. Flawed
  114. Flustered
  115. Focused
  116. Foolhardy
  117. Gregarious
  118. Grim
  119. Handsome
  120. Handy
  121. Intelligent
  122. Intrepid
  123. Jocular
  124. Jovial
  125. Joyful
  126. Jubilant
  127. Keen
  128. Kind
  129. Lanky
  130. Lazy
  131. Limp
  132. Luxurious
  133. Mediocre
  134. Mellow
  135. Miserable
  136. Nocturnal
  137. Naive
  138. Nasty
  139. Neat
  140. Needy
  141. Negative
  142. Nervous
  143. Nice
  144. Organic
  145. Ornate
  146. Ordinary
  147. Powerless
  148. Practical
  149. Precious
  150. Puzzled
  151. Quarrelsome
  152. Querulous 
  153. Questionable
  154. Quirky
  155. Ragged
  156. Rapid
  157. Ready
  158. Recent
  159. Regal
  160. Reliable
  161. Sad
  162. Sandy
  163. Sane
  164. Scarce
  165. Scented
  166. Scornful
  167. Secret
  168. Selfish
  169. Super
  170. Talented
  171. Tame
  172. Tasty
  173. Tender
  174. Tense
  175. Terse
  176. Terrible
  177. Thankful
  178. Thoughtful
  179. Thoughtless
  180. Tired
  181. Tough
  182. Troubling
  183. Ugly
  184. Uninterested
  185. Unusual
  186. Upset
  187. Uptight
  188. Varied
  189. Vast
  190. Victorious
  191. Vivacious
  192. Wandering
  193. Weary
  194. Wicked
  195. Wide
  196. Wild
  197. Witty
  198. Worrisome
  199. Wrong
  200. Young
  201. Zealous

This list is not exhaustive, and there are many synonyms and other words that could be added. In addition, all colors are considered adjectives and describing words. Nationalities, like American or English, can also fit this list.

As you work on creating descriptive writing, get used to using these and similar words. You might also find our list of pronouns useful.

Example Sentences Using Adjectives

To better understand how adjectives look in sentences, consider these examples:

  • The fuzzy red fox jumped over the tall fence. (red, tall)
  • We like to visit the beautiful forest (beautiful)
  • The garden shed feels damp this morning. (garden, damp)
  • The trip to Disney World was magical. (magical)
  • The beautiful bird sat on the rough branch and sang. (beautiful, rough)
  • The woman is short, but her husband is tall. (short, tall)
  • I prefer cold climates. (cold)
  • The luxurious hotel included soft robes for each guest. (luxurious, soft, each)

Common Endings for Adjectives

Because listing all adjectives in the English language is impossible, knowing their endings is helpful, especially for ESL language learners. Some of the common endings for adjectives include:

  • -al
  • -an
  • -ar
  • -ful
  • -ic
  • -ical
  • -ine
  • -ile
  • -ive
  • -less
  • -ous
  • -some

If you see a word ending in one of these, and you know it isn't a noun, chances are high it is an adjective.

List of Adverbs in English

The English language also uses adverbs to describe verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. These descriptive words show intensity, number and extent. They often end in -ly.

  1. Abnormally
  2. Accidentally
  3. Actually
  4. Aggressively
  5. Always
  6. Amusingly
  7. Anxiously
  8. Angrily
  9. Annually
  10. Apathetically
  11. Assertively
  12. Astronomically
  13. Awkwardly
  14. Badly
  15. Bashfully
  16. Beautifully
  17. Begrudgingly
  18. Bitterly
  19. Blindly
  20. Blissfully
  21. Blearily 
  22. Boastfully
  23. Boldly
  24. Bravely
  25. Brightly
  26. Briskly
  27. Broadly
  28. Busily
  29. Carefully
  30. Carelessly
  31. Cheerfully
  32. Clearly
  33. Closely
  34. Cooly
  35. Coyly
  36. Crazily
  37. Crossly
  38. Daily
  39. Daintily
  40. Deceivingly
  41. Deeply
  42. Defiantly
  43. Definitely
  44. Deftly
  45. Deliberately
  46. Devotedly
  47. Differently
  48. Diligently
  49. Dimly
  50. Doubtfully
  51. Dramatically
  52. Dutifully
  53. Eagerly
  54. Early
  55. Easily
  56. Elegantly
  57. Emotionally
  58. Enormously
  59. Equally
  60. Especially
  61. Evenly
  62. Eventually
  63. Exactly
  64. Exceptionally
  65. Faithfully
  66. Faintly
  67. Faithfully
  68. Far
  69. Fast
  70. Fervently
  71. Fiercely
  72. Finally
  73. Finitely
  74. Foolishly
  75. Frequently
  76. Frightfully
  77. Frenetically
  78. Frivolously
  79. Gladly
  80. Gleefully
  81. Gracefully
  82. Graciously
  83. Greatly
  84. Greedily
  85. Happily
  86. Hard
  87. Hastily
  88. Honestly
  89. Hopelessly
  90. Hourly
  91. Humorously
  92. Humbly
  93. Hungrily
  94. Hysterically
  95. Innocently
  96. Inquisitively
  97. Irritably
  98. Intelligently
  99. Impressively
  100. Jealously
  101. Jovially
  102. Jubilantly
  103. Justly
  104. Kindly
  105. Knowingly
  106. Late
  107. Lazily
  108. Less
  109. Loosely
  110. Lovingly
  111. Ludicrously
  112. Madly
  113. Meagerly
  114. Mercifully
  115. Merrily
  116. Methodically
  117. Morally
  118. More
  119. Mortally
  120. Mysteriously
  121. Naturally
  122. Nearly
  123. Neglectfully
  124. Nervously
  125. Never
  126. Nicely
  127. Normally
  128. Not
  129. Obediently
  130. Obnoxiously
  131. Occasionally
  132. Often
  133. Only
  134. Perfectly
  135. Politely
  136. Poorly
  137. Powerfully
  138. Promptly
  139. Pointlessly
  140. Powerfully
  141. Quickly
  142. Rapidly
  143. Rarely
  144. Really
  145. Regularly
  146. Rashly
  147. Rudely
  148. Safely
  149. Seldom
  150. Selfishly
  151. Seriously
  152. Shakily
  153. Sharply
  154. Significantly
  155. Silently
  156. Slightly
  157. Slowly
  158. Solemnly
  159. Sometimes
  160. Speedily
  161. Splendidly 
  162. Straight
  163. Sternly
  164. Substantially
  165. Tactfully
  166. Tragically
  167. Technically
  168. Tediously
  169. Unexpectedly
  170. Uprightly
  171. Urgently
  172. Usefully
  173. Usually
  174. Vacantly
  175. Vastly
  176. Very
  177. Victoriously
  178. Vitally 
  179. Vivaciously
  180. Vividly
  181. Voluntarily
  182. Warmly
  183. Weakly
  184. Wearily
  185. Weekly
  186. Weirdly
  187. Well
  188. Wholly
  189. Wildly
  190. Willfully
  191. Wisely
  192. Worriedly
  193. Wrong
  194. Wrongly
  195. Yearly
  196. Yearningly
  197. Yesterday
  198. Youthfully
  199. Zealously
  200. Zestfully

Again, this is not an exhaustive list. As you learn to identify adverbs or use them in your own writing, look for words that describe verbs and other descriptive words and end in -ly.

Editing tip: Sometimes adverbs can also serve as filler words that you can remove or use to slow down or speed up a piece.

Example Sentences Using Adverbs

To better understand how adverbs show up in sentences as descriptive words, consider these examples:

  • The electric car drove so quietly we didn't hear it coming. (so, quietly)
  • My dog barked angrily at the intruder. (angrily)
  • The girls sang beautifully. (beautifully)
  • He swam across the pool quickly. (quickly)
  • The box is surprisingly heavy for its size. (surprisingly) 
  • The toddler walked very carefully across the slippery floor. (very, carefully)
  • Language learning is incredibly easy for some students, and incredibly hard for others (incredibly)

A Final Word on Descriptive Words List

As you learn how to become a better writer, descriptive language is a big part of the picture. Adjectives and adverbs are the parts of speech that allow you to describe other things vividly. While you can over-use them, they can add color and interest to your writing when used well.

Keep this list of descriptive words handy. When you have need, pull it out and find one that fits your writing. Whether you're writing a sentence, short story or an entire novel, you'll find it easier to get descriptive when you have these words on hand.

Check Like this? Check out our list of sensory words.

FAQs on Descriptive Words List

What are some good descriptive words?

Descriptive words are words that make something easier to identify by describing its characteristics. Some good words that fit this include:
Bright
Adventurous
Jovial
Charming
Peaceful

What words describe movement?

Some descriptive words describe the movement of an object. These include:
Swiftly
Fluidly
Gracefully
Smoothly
Disjointedly

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Author

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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