English Words that Describe Behaviour

An A-Z of English words and phrases that describe behaviour.

A

active = always doing something: "She's an active person and never wants to stay in."

aggressive = being angry or threatening: "He's aggressive and starts arguments."

ambitious = wanting to succeed: "He's ambitious and wants to lead the company."

argumentative = always arguing with people: "He won't accept what you say – he's argumentative and loves to disagree!"

arrogant = thinking you are better than anyone else: "He always behaves as if nobody else's opinion is important – "I find him very arrogant."

assertive = being confident, so people can't force you to do things you don't want to do: "It's important to be assertive at work."

B

bad-tempered = in a bad mood: "What's got into him lately? He's so bad-tempered."

big-headed = thinking you're very important or clever: "I've never met anyone so big-headed!"

bossy = telling people what to do all the time: "He's so bossy – he never lets me do things the way I want to do them."

C

careless = not taking care: "He's a careless driver – "I'm sure he'll have an accident."

caring = wanting to help people: "My boss is caring and often asks me how things are going."

catty = saying nasty or spiteful things about other people: "I know you don't like her, but calling her names is a bit catty."

cautious = being careful, so that you avoid mistakes: "He's cautious about investing money in the stock market."

charming = pleasant and likeable: "What a charming man!"

cheeky = being rude or disrespectful: "It was a bit cheeky of him to ask for more money."

clever = intelligent: "She's a clever student and picks things up quickly."

conceited = thinking you're very clever, or better than others: "He's so conceited – he thinks everyone should admire him."

conscientious = doing something carefully, because you want to do it well: "She's a conscientious student and always does her homework."

considerate = thinking and caring about others: "My neighbour brought me flowers when I was in hospital – he's very considerate." ("That was considerate of him.")

coy = pretending to be shy so that you don't have to give information: "He's very coy about his qualifications – maybe he doesn't have any."

creative = someone who can make or design things, or can think of solutions to a problem: "She's creative and artistic."

curious = wanting to know things: "I'm curious to find out what you think of the situation."

D

deceitful = trying to make people think something, so that you get what you want: "He lied to get this job – he's so deceitful."

docile = quiet and submissive: "She's a docile child and always does what she's told."

dogmatic = wanting others to accept your ideas without discussion: "He's a dogmatic politician and always thinks he's right."

domineering = trying to control other people: "He's loud and domineering in the office – it's difficult to get him to listen to us."

E

enthusiastic = having a lot of interest in something: "He's an enthusiastic supporter of equal rights."

excitable = someone who easily gets excited: "He gets very excitable about politics – it's one of his passions in life."

extroverted = outgoing and lively: "She's extroverted and loves going out with people."

F

faithful = being loyal to someone or something: "She's a faithful friend."

fickle = changing your mind and being unpredictable: "Politicians can be fickle when it suits them!"

flaky = slightly unstable and unreliable: "She's a little flaky at times, but otherwise she's a good worker."

full of himself = acting proud of yourself: "He was full of himself after he got the promotion – it got annoying after a while."

funny = making other people laugh: "He can be extremely funny when he's in the mood."

fussy = only liking certain things: "She's fussy about what she wears."

G

good-natured = kind and thoughtful: "She's good-natured and always tries to help."

grumpy = someone who tends to be in a bad mood: "He's always grumpy in the morning and never says 'hello'."

H

happy-go-lucky = not worrying about what might happen in the future: "He's a bit happy-go-lucky and doesn't think about the future."

I

impulsive = doing things without thinking first: "If he sees something he likes, he just buys it – he can be so impulsive at times!"

inconsiderate = not considering other people or their feelings: "It was a little inconsiderate of him not to give you a get-well card."

introverted = opposite of extroverted: "He was introverted as a teenager, but became more confident as he got older."

inventive = able to think up new ideas: "As head of Marketing, he can often think of inventive ways to keep his customers happy."

irritating = annoying others: "He can be very irritating to work with."

J

jokey = making jokes: "You're in a jokey mood today, but we've got work to do!"

jolly = happy and cheerful: "It was the weekend and everyone was in a jolly mood."

K

kind = thoughtful and caring: "My neighbour is kind – she looked after my cat when I was on holiday."

L

loud-mouthed = someone who talks a lot and often says offensive things: "Don't worry about what he said – he's loud-mouthed at times."

loyal = someone who is faithful and stands by you: "His colleagues were loyal to him when he was having problems with his boss."

M

manic = behaving in a slightly crazy way: "We're a bit manic at the moment – we're rushing to finish the work before our deadline."

manipulative = trying to get people to do what you want, by influencing or deceiving them: "She's very manipulative when she wants something."

moody = having unpredictable moods: "Some people think he's moody – you never know if he's happy or grumpy."

N

nervous = uncomfortable with a situation: "I'm always nervous before an exam."

O

old-fashioned = behaving or thinking in a way that isn't modern: "He's a bit old-fashioned and thinks women shouldn't work."

opinionated = having strong opinions: "He's opinionated and dogmatic – the last person you want to negotiate with."

P

passive = not assertive – doing what other people want you to do without arguing: "He's passive at work, but domineering at home."

perfectionist = someone who wants perfection: "Her boss is a perfectionnist – no spelling mistakes are allowed."

persuasive = being able to persuade people to do things or to accept your ideas: "He's a persuasive talker."

picky = only liking certain things or people: "She's picky about her friends."

playful = someone who likes to play and have fun: "You're in a playful mood today!"

pleasant = nice and polite: "The bank manager was pleasant to me today."

polite = showing good manners: "She's polite and never forgets to say 'please' or 'thank you'."

pragmatic = being practical and aware of your limitations: "She's pragmatic at work and only does what she can."

Q

quick-tempered = getting angry quickly: "He was quick-tempered when he was young, but he's more relaxed now."

R

reserved = keeping your ideas and thoughts to yourself: "He's reserved, but polite."

rude = impolite: "He's very rude and never says 'please' or 'thank you'."

S

scatter-brained / scatty = someone who often forgets things: "Don't you remember where you put your wallet? You're so scatter-brained!"

serious = not light-hearted: "He's a serious student and always does his homework."

shy = quiet, because you are not very confident: "He's so shy and hates saying anything to people he doesn't know."

sincere = saying what you believe (opposite of insincere): "He's sincere in his beliefs."

slapdash = doing your work quickly and carelessly: "He's got a very slapdash attitude – I doubt he'll ever become a lawyer."

slimy = trying to get what you want by being over-friendly: "That man is so slimy – he makes me feel sick!"

sly = doing things in a secretive way: "You never know what he's up to – he's sly and manipulative."

spiteful = trying to hurt other people because you didn't get what you wanted: "If she doesn't get what she wants, she can be quite spiteful."

T

thoughtful = someone who thinks a lot: "He's a thoughtful person and won't do anything unless he has considered the consequences."

thoughtless = not thinking about people or the consequences of your actions: "I'm sure he didn't mean to be rude – he can be thoughtless at times."

trustworthy = someone you can trust: "My accountant is really trustworthy."

V

volatile quickly changing moods: "He's easily excitable and pretty volatile."

W

witty = being able to make other people laugh by what you say: "He's witty and charming – the perfect person to invite to a party."

Test your understanding with the quiz below!

Level: Pre-intermediate and above

1. Dave wants to do well in life. He sets goals for himself and is very __ .
2. Don't tell her she's great at her job. She's __ enough already!
3. He won't listen to people who haven't gone to university. He's so __ .
4. Louise is a __ student and always hands in her homework on time.
5. Sue is a very __ colleague. She always asks people first if she can open the window.
6. Can I be __ and ask you for some more cake? It's delicious!
7. She made a __ remark about Donna being fat. I think she's jealous, actually.
8. Don's very __ about his new job. He loves it and thinks his colleagues are great.
9. Because his voice is so loud it's easy for him to sound __ .
10. Don't keep changing your mind all the time. People will think you're __ .
11. Tony is such a __ eater. He refuses to eat most vegetables.
12. Why is she in such a __ mood? She hasn't smiled once this morning!
13. It's a bit __ to apply for the first job you see. It's a better idea to think about your choices first.
14. It's difficult to know how Frank will react in any situation. He's quite __ and you never know if he's going to be in a good or a bad temper.
15. He's so __ . He doesn't even have a mobile phone.
16. His driving makes me feel __ . He always drives too fast.
17. It's a nightmare working with him. He's such a __ that he spends hours on every part of the job.
18. It's __ to hold the door open for someone.
19. Joe is so __ . He's always leaving things he needs at home.
20. He asked you to work late then didn't offer you a lift home? That was a bit __ of him - especially as you live so near.



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41 comments

Sinforoso
A wonderful article, I like it a lot
victor
i'm really grateful to you for giving me training of English vocabulary and practice work. i hope my English is getting improved than before not only in conversation but also in writing letter and reading the newspaper. moreover i wish i could get some apps about that so that i could study myself out of network. allright thanking you so much for everything and looking forward to next more lessons, sincerly VICTOR
Bre
It really helped on an essay I was supost to give thanks.+1
ashish
good collection hai\
stanler
i love this
coolkid
Awesome
Susana
That list is fantastic but I can't find a word to describe a coworker with a very mean attitude, he gives attitude all the time and is offensive if he does not get his way, diminish people and try to jump you if you are on his way even if you are there to check and process things for him as his time sheets or itineraries. he is quick temper and volatile and knows what to say to make you feel less and put your down but without any bad word. It is actually difficult to reply what he said to offend you because when you repeat it, it sounds not that bad is like the tone?Thanks
Clare
I don't think there's only one adjective to describe him! I'd say "aggressive", "difficult to work with", "volatile" and "unhelpful"! (PS Hope the situation gets better for you - he sounds like a nightmare to work with!)
narjess
thank you it`s really very interesting.i like it
Tim kay garang
Very helpful......i like yo material
Gary
how would you describe someone that isn't serious when it comes to love?
Clare
A flirt? Or you could say that he / she is just out for a good time.
chandan kumar jha
thanks for great collation .
KGOLOLOSEGO
OMG! Finally i just learned the best out of this! AwEsOmE! Um a manic individual and pragmantic all the time!*wOw*
popboy11
What is the word that means that you want to do something really bad????? Like you are setting you mind to do it, but you cant because of the people around you wont let you like you are eager to do it.
Clare
You can say that you are "tempted" to do something. (But this doesn't mean that it's something bad.)
mina
thanks a pile ,it is perfect
vijay simhareddy
Thank's to you
Nabil Saad
Thanks a lot for this effort.It is a very useful collectionof information.
Hamdiya ahmed
Awesome
Venkataraman Reddy
Where is the word "Eccentric"?
Ben 101
what helpful information, I learn so much from this amazing artical
laaroussi
Thank you so much for these useful notes. I have so much appreciated your article
Ed
Is there a word that describes why we accept bad language or behavior from one person but not another. Sort of like "oh, he's always talked like that" versus "oh, what bad language he just used. Shame on him"
Clare
I'm not sure if there's a single word. Perhaps a phrase like "give someone extra leeway" or "make allowances for someone".
shruti
its really helpful
Shiva
great Job.... It is very helpful
fialo
What word can One use to describe a Comptemptous Pouting? Ie; pout quickly to show disapproval or hatred.
Garcia
this is really useful.....love it
Corey
I was lookin for a word to describe someone who shows no interest in things they don't already know about and kinda like.
Clare
Maybe you could say "blase" or "disconnected"? I have to say I prefer your phrase "no interest in things they already know about". It sums up the concept really well!
Nikhil
You made English language interesting to learn by your beautiful post. Thanks for this absolute great work and request you to continue doing it.......
Clare
Perhaps the word "sneer": "He sneered at her suggestion".
irvine
Superb
Jackay
GReat
Nelrie
It was so good I loved it.
Sharda
It's really helpful,
Yvonne
I'm amaze that there so many words tha match but b
Me
good job great words
savita
it's inventive,thanks
eto'o
That was a great quiz,just to see far I can go with my vocub.

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