39 English Words You Need To Know to Describe Your Feelings

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

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ESL Feeling of Joy

One of the things I love about English is the number of words we have for our feelings. I am a person who enjoys talking about my feelings so I find it helpful that I can usually find a word that matches the current feeling that I am having—even some of those hard-to-describe emotions.

And, the business world is not exempt from hard-to-describe feelings. In fact, the business world might be the biggest hotbed of feelings, even if we are usually taught to keep our feelings "under wraps" at work.

Recently, I came across a comprehensive list of feelings while I was reading a book called Ask and It is Given. They were represented on a scale from the most positive feelings (for example, joy) all the way down to the most negative feelings (for example, powerlessness).

This list is very interesting to me from both a psychological perspective and from a vocabulary perspective. We have so many words to describe our feelings! Can you imagine that if you mastered this list, you would almost always be able to describe exactly how you felt inside. That feels powerful to me.

Now, I don’t know if you are the type of person who talks about your feelings a lot, but even if you’re not, I think understanding this list could be immensely helpful for your English skills.

I’ll share the list here. Again, it’s from the book Ask and It is Given by Esther and Jerry

Hicks, page 114.

List of Feelings

1. Joy/Appreciation/Empowered/Freedom/Love

2. Passion

3. Enthusiasm/Eagerness/Happiness

4. Positive Expectation/Belief

5. Optimism

6. Hopefulness

7. Contentment

8. Boredom

9. Pessimism

10. Frustration/Irritation/Impatience

11. "Overwhelment"

12. Disappointment

13. Doubt

14. Worry

15. Blame

16. Discouragement

17. Anger

18. Revenge

19. Hatred/Rage

20. Jealousy

21. Insecurity/Guilt/Unworthiness

22. Fear/Grief/Depression/Despair/Powerlessness

Even if you don’t know the exact meanings of each feeling, I bet you can get a “feel” for the meaning based on where the feeling is positioned on the scale from positive to negative.

Notice the part of speech of each of these words. It's the noun form, right? So, for example, I felt joy today when I talked to my brother on the phone. Joy is something that you have or feel. Or, you can turn joy into an adjective.

I felt joyful.

Now, nouns like discouragement can also be turned into adjectives. We remove the suffix -ment and add -d (discouraged). Many of the nouns on the list above can be turned into adjectives in this way.

I felt discouraged by the news.

Max is frustrated about the lack of progress.

She is worried about her presentation.

What do you think of the word overwhelment? The authors created this word! But it makes perfect sense, right?

We usually see this feeling as an adjective ending in -ed, like the examples above.

My boss felt overwhelmed.

But not all of the words can be turned into adjectives this way. Take note of:

The man was optimistic (or pessimistic) about his future. Or, you can say:

The man was hopeful (or doubtful) about his future.

Are you ready for some practice?

Can you brainstorm a situation or a time in which you felt each of the feelings on the list and write a sentence about them? If you can’t think of a specific situation, you can always make something up! The objective is to associate the vocabulary word with something personal that you put into writing.

If the list is too long, just focus on words that are new to you. By making the words meaningful and relevant to you, you are more likely to remember them and use them!

And, on a final note, I have to admit I’m curious. Do you have an abundance of words for the different feelings we humans can have? I imagine your native language is just as rich in “feeling words” as English. Add a comment to let me know!

#ESLFeelingsVocabulary #Englishemotions #Englishfeelings #Feelingsvocabulary #wordsaboutfeelings #listoffeelings

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