There is always a right time to use descriptive words in any piece of writing. Descriptive words are also adjectives, but to be descriptive means to appeal to the reader or listener’s senses. We can say something is small, but how small? Something might be blue, but what shade of blue? If something is beautiful, in what way is it beautiful? Descriptive words take regular adjectives to the next level. Let’s explore what descriptive writing actually entails.
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What Are Descriptive Words?
Descriptive words are words that describe a person, place, thing, or idea in a way that relates to the senses. The five senses are sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. The better the description, the better the reader or listener can picture it in their head. Sometimes the imagery is pleasant and other times it might be frightening, saddening, or even disgusting. For now, we’ll focus on positive descriptions! Let’s take an apple tree for example.
We’ve already described it as a “tall tree”. How tall, though? 40 feet? Now we have a 40-foot tall apple tree. Maybe it’s covered in beautiful pink blossoms. Maybe it smells like heaven. Therefore, we could describe the tree as a “40-foot tall, rosy pink apple tree that smelled as sweet as it looked”. There was nothing initially wrong with saying “the tall apple tree” or even just “the tall tree”, however, if our goal is for the reader to imagine this tree to the best of their ability, the latter description works best.
Here is another example. This time, we’ll keep the descriptions coming until we have a great, imaginative sentence!
- There was a brown bear.
- There was a ferocious grizzly bear.
- There was a ferocious grizzly bear, emitting a low-pitched growl and showing its razor-like teeth.
In a nutshell, this is the definition of how we use descriptive wording! Now let’s find out exactly why descriptive wording is so important.
Why Do We Use Descriptive Words?
We use descriptive words for the sake of the audience and the subject in question. The more important it is that the audience thinks about the subject, the better description we should use. We use descriptive wording most often in fiction because it brings the imagery of the story to life. Just like in the previous example, if the apple tree is important to the scene and/or the story itself, being descriptive paints a picture. If we want people to know that the bear was scary rather than cute and cuddly, we need to let them know. Words like these provide deeper understanding, create emotions, and give your writing or speech a sense of realism. We always want to connect with our audience to the best of our ability.
Now, let’s look at 30 descriptive words that you can use to capture someone’s imagination!
List of Descriptive Words/Terms
Below is the list of common descriptive words that you often see.
- Sky blue
- Mossy green
List of Descriptive Words and Their Synonyms
Descriptive Words | Infographic