The more words you know, the more clearly and powerfully you will think… and the more ideas you will invite into your mind. — Wilfred Funk
Having an extensive vocabulary is not only about understanding a lot of words and phrases. It also means that you can easily use these words in daily life, without missing a beat. And this is the main difference between passive and active vocabulary.
Our everyday language has become overloaded with such typical and cliché words and phrases that we hardly even notice their presence. No doubt, avoiding ‘boring’ terms will make your speech more emotional and interesting.
If you are a writer, a good English vocabulary will help you create a particular style and set a tone for your work. Writing ‘the weather was bad’ won’t excite the reader as there are no descriptive words here. Using words that add more detail will help you create the desired mood with ease.
ESL learners also benefit greatly from having a top-notch vocabulary, whether they need to study for the IELTS (which specializes in British English) or the TOEFL (which specializes in American English).
There are various methods of expanding your vocabulary. One of the most useful ways to improve it quickly and efficiently is to learn synonyms and regularly use them in your speech and writing.
What is a synonym?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a synonym is:
“a word or phrase that has the same or nearly the same meaning as another word or phrase.”
A synonym is the opposite of an antonym, which is a word that has an opposite meaning to another word. The English language is full of synonyms. Unfortunately, synonym learning is not a simple task. Why? It’s always important to look at the context of the sentence in which you want to use the particular synonym. Some words are interchangeable as synonyms, and there are also other words that are used only in certain contexts. This is where it helps to have a thesaurus on hand, so you can identify synonyms of common words and add them to your vocabulary.
For example, the English verbs start and begin are nearly always interchangeable. On the other hand, beautiful and handsome have the same overall meaning but are used in different contexts depending on the gender of the subject and emotion the writer would like to portray.
The best way to memorize new synonyms is to break them down into categories and add them to your vocabulary notebook. In this article, we’re going to provide you with a word list of some synonyms of common English adjectives, along with their definitions from the Cambridge Dictionary, Oxford Dictionaries, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and The Free Dictionary.
You can expand these synonym lists on your own time and use them as a reference to look for the right words when you are struggling to write or say something.
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Synonyms for common adjectives
Synonyms for “happy” adjectives
- Cheerful — happy and positive in feeling or attitude. This word is also used to describe a thing or place that is bright and pleasant.
- Delighted — very pleased; feeling or showing great pleasure.
- Ecstatic — extremely happy or excited; expressing overwhelming happiness or joyful excitement.
- Contented — feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.
- Amused — finding something funny or entertaining.
- Thrilled — suddenly become extremely happy about something.
- Elated — in high spirits, excited or proud, often because something has happened or been achieved.
- On cloud nine — being in a state of euphoric happiness because something very good has happened to you.
- Be in 7th heaven — very happy, ecstatic.
- Be walking/floating on air — a state of extreme happiness.
- Pleased synonym — feeling or showing pleasure and satisfaction, especially at an event or a situation. You can use “I’m pleased to meet you” as a polite way of greeting someone when you meet a person for the first time.
Synonyms for “sad” adjectives
- Miserable — (of a person) very unhappy, unpleasant or uncomfortable; causing much unhappiness or discomfort.
- Depressed — (of a person) low in spirits, feeling unhappy and without hope, suffering from clinical depression.
- Sorrowful — very sad, full of sorrow, heart-broken, feeling or showing grief.
- Frustrated — feeling annoyed, disappointed, or discouraged, especially because you cannot achieve what you want; (before a noun) having an ambition that has not been realized.
- Distraught — extremely upset, worried, or nervous.
- Gloomy — having or showing a lack of hope; not expecting or believing anything good in a situation.
- Despondent — in low spirits from loss of hope or courage, because you think that you are in a situation that is unlikely to improve.
- Distressed — upset or worried, suffering from pain or anxiety.
- Devastated synonym — emotionally shattered, very shocked and upset.
Synonyms for “good” adjectives
- Excellent — extremely good.
- Amazing — very good, impressive, extremely surprising.
- Sensational — very exciting and unusual, unexpectedly excellent or impressive.
- Awesome — very good, causing feelings of great admiration or respect.
- Marvellous — extremely good, extraordinary, causing great wonder, of the highest kind or quality.
- Terrific — very good or enjoyable.
- Splendid — very impressive, excellent, or beautiful.
- Outstanding — exceptionally good, very much better than usual.
- Exceptional synonym — unusually good, better than average, much greater than usual, especially in skills, intelligence, quality, etc.
- Legendary synonym — remarkable enough to be famous.
Synonyms for “bad” adjectives
- Awful — very bad, unpleasant, or of low quality.
- Poor — of a very low quality or standard.
- Unpleasant — not attractive, enjoyable or pleasant, causing discomfort; (of a person or their manner) unfriendly and rude.
- Mean — unkind or unpleasant, (especially of a place) poor in quality and appearance
- Dreadful — extremely bad, causing great suffering or fear; (of a person) unwell or troubled.
- Nasty — mean, unpleasant, mischievous, or offensive; (of the weather) unpleasantly cold or wet.
- Wicked — morally wrong and bad. Wicked can also mean slightly bad but in an attractive way.
- Disagreeable — unpleasant, unattractive, unfriendly.
- Wretched — extremely or deplorably bad or distressing, of poor quality; (of a person) being in a very unhappy or unfortunate state.
- Nice — pleasant or attractive; (of a person) good-natured, kind.
- Stunning — extremely beautiful or attractive.
- Beautiful — very attractive, having an attractive quality that gives pleasure to those who see it or think about it.
- Handsome — (usually of a man) physically attractive, good-looking.
- Dazzling — extremely attractive, beautiful, or skilful.
- Appealing — interesting and attractive.
- Out of this world — extremely enjoyable or impressive.
- Gorgeous synonym — very beautiful or pleasant, magnificent.
- Charming synonym — very pleasing or delightful; (of a person or their manner) very polite, friendly, and likeable.
- Annoyed — feeling or showing angry irritation.
- Grumpy — being in an angry mood because you are annoyed at something or are feeling tired.
- Irate — extremely angry.
- Enraged — very angry, furious.
- Touchy — easily angered or upset, oversensitive.
- Mad — very angry or annoyed.
- Infuriated — furiously angry.
By using the synonyms instead of common adjectives, you will significantly increase your vocabulary and knowledge of English. So, write these words down in your vocabulary notebook and develop a habit of reading through it every day.
For example, you can choose several words or phrases early in the morning and try to use them in conversations throughout the day. You will be pleasantly surprised by how quickly your language becomes more powerful and compelling. Search for new synonyms and don’t be afraid to practice!