Facial expressions say a lot about a person and how they are feeling. As a writer, using specific words to describe facial expressions can help to distinguish the extent of these feelings to other characters and your readers.
The most basic words to describe a person’s facial expressions are happy, sad, angry, afraid or surprised. However, you can add deeper meanings to these facial expressions by using more creative words to describe them.
This article will introduce you to some words to describe facial expressions that you may not have used before and remind you of other words that are more effective than those you are currently using.
What does facial expression mean?
The dictionary defines a “facial expression” as “the movement or position of the features of the face, especially the mouth, eyes, and eyebrows, in order to show emotion or attitude.”
It’s what you use to judge how a person is feeling without them having to say anything. It is one of the most noticeable forms of nonverbal communication and can many emotions.
A character’s facial expression can let others know if he/she is happy, or if he/she is sad. It can tell signs of anger and aggression, or let someone know that the person is arrogant.
Someone’s facial expression can tell if they are surprised and did not expect something, or if they are feeling fearful and/or uncomfortable.
Glance at these words to describe facial expressions, and try to implement some of them in your own writing. They can be used to display different aspects of the same emotion.
6 of the best words to describe happy facial expressions
Happiness is the easiest facial expression to identify and describe. You could use the word ‘happy’ to describe it, but you might want to try one of these words to describe facial expressions to improve your descriptive writing:
6 of the best words to describe sad facial expressions
Sadness can be caused by great loss or by feeling hurt or offended. This can range from crying or weeping to being expressionless.
These are some words to describe facial expressions associated with feelings of sadness:
6 of the best words to describe angry facial expressions
Anger happens when someone feels slighted or disrespected by something done to them or others. It will lead to expressions of negative feelings which can be verbal, or nonverbal in the case of facial expressions.
Here are some of the best words to describe facial expressions :
6 of the best words for surprised facial expressions
Surprised facial expressions happen when someone did not expect something to happen. It can be either good or bad, depending on the situation.
Here are 6 words to describe surpised facial expressions :
5 of the best words for fearful expressions
Genuine fear happens when a person feels threatened by something/someone causing harm to themselves or others. In other words, it’s the anticipation of danger marked by anxiety and a loss of courage.
Here are some of the best words to describe fearful facial expressions :
5 of the best words for shy/nervous facial expressions
Shyness or nervousness happens when a person feels uncomfortable in a situation or is put outside of his/her comfort zone. This feeling can be expressed through facial expressions, along with bodily language such as shaking, pacing or breathlessness/speechlessness.
5 of the best words for aggressive facial expressions
Aggression may be described as a feeling of anger that translates into a readiness to attack or confront a person. Many times, before an assault or confrontation takes place, the facial expression gives a hint of what’s to come.
Here are 5 of the best words to describe facial expressions related to aggression:
Bonus : Words to describe facial expressions of other natures
Facial expressions are easy to recognize, but not always easy to describe. Use this list of words to describe facial expressions to help improve your writing and better connect with your audience/readers.