Build Your Emotional Vocabulary: Emotion Words List

I always say: Emotional intelligence is a superpower. But like any ability, super or not, you need to train and sharpen it.

How do you do that?

One way is by building your emotional intelligence vocabulary.

Why is having an extensive emotional vocabulary so valuable? Consider an illustration.

Let’s say one day you wake up with an intense pain that you’ve never felt before, so you decide to go to the doctor for help. The doctor asks you to describe your pain. Depending on your experience, you may say the pain feels sharp, dull, burning, shooting, aching, cramping, gnawing, heavy, splitting, stabbing, nauseating, throbbing, or tender.

The more specific you can get in describing your pain, the easier it will be for your doctor to diagnose the problem and prescribe the best treatment.

It works similarly with your emotions: By using specific words to describe your feelings, you can better “diagnose” them—helping you understand where they’re coming from, and why. The right words can help you get to the root cause of your (or others’) feelings. It can also enable you to communicate them in a way others can understand.

So, how do you build your emotional intelligence vocabulary?

Here’s a list to get you started. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. But it should get you thinking about different words you can use to describe emotions and feelings, and help you to start doing so more accurately.

Emotion Words List

Build your Emotional Vocabulary

Pleasant and Unpleasant Emotions Word List:


Bored: Feeling weary because you’re unoccupied or you lack interest in your current activity

Apathetic: Feeling no interest, enthusiasm, or concern Melancholy: A feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause

Apprehensive: Hesitant because of fear something bad or unpleasant will happen

Disappointed: Sad because someone or something has failed to fulfill your hopes or expectations

Isolated: To feel alone or separated from others

Lonely: Sad because of lack of human connection

Guilty: Feeling disappointed in yourself, along with deep regret Vulnerable: Susceptible to attack or harm

Confused: Feeling unclear about your thoughts or feelings Brooding: Unpleasant state resulting from thinking deeply about something that makes you unhappy

Aggressive: Ready to attack or confront

Helpless: Unable to defend yourself or to act without help

Disturbed: Uneasy as a result having had your normal pattern or function disrupted

Humiliated: To feel ashamed and foolish as a result of injured dignity Confident: Satisfied with yourself and your abilities, and self-respect
resulting in pride and hopefulness

Distraught: Deeply upset

Rejected: Dismissed as inadequate, inappropriate, or not to one’s taste

Shame: A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior

Demoralized: Having lost confidence or hope

Overwhelmed: Feeling unable to progress because of too many internal or external expectations

Sadness: Emotional pain associated with feelings of disadvantage or loss

Fear: An intensely unpleasant emotion in response to perceiving a danger or threat

Anger: A strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility

Resentful: Feeling angry, hurt, or bitter because of a bad experience or a sense of unjust treatment

Disgusted: A feeling of revulsion or strong disapproval caused by something unpleasant or offensive

Agitated: Unpleasantly excited caused by anxiety or nervousness. Impatient quickly irritated or provoked

Indignant: Feeling anger or annoyance at what is perceived as unfair treatment

Horrified: Extremely shocked or disgusted

Exasperated: Intensely irritated and frustrated

Panic: Sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety

Hatred: A feeling of intense dislike or ill will



Amused: A feeling that you find something funny or entertaining

Friendly: Kind and pleasant towards others

Calm: A feeling of peace; lack of excitement, nervousness, or other strong emotions

Relaxed: Feeling physically free from tension

Content: Accepting of one’s circumstances, resulting in inner peace

Carefree: Free from anxiety or responsibility

Admiration: A warm sense of approval and respect

Trust: Belief in a person’s sincerity

Charitable: Ready to assist those in need

Generous: Willing to give more than is usual or expected

Gracious: Courteous, kind, and pleasant

Gratitude: A sense of appreciation and desire to return kindness

Happiness: A feeling of great pleasure or contentment

Relieved: A positive feeling because distress has passed

Satisfied: A feeling of pleasure derived from the fulfillment of your expectations, desires, or needs

Courageous: Undeterred by discomfort or fear

Determined: A feeling of resolution towards a decision

Driven: Compelled to work hard towards a goal

Optimistic: Hopeful and confident about the future

Fascinated: Pleasantly intrigued, having a strong desire to learn more

Enlightened: A feeling of happiness derived from learning something

Delighted: Very pleased

Cheerful: Outwardly happy and optimistic

Eager: Enthusiasm to do or to have something

Joyful: A feeling of great happiness

Love: An intense feeling of deep affection

Adoration: Deep love and respect

Excited: High energy due to anticipation that something pleasant will to happen

Triumphant: Happy as a result of accomplishing something challenging

Ecstasy: A state of extreme happiness

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