Facial Expressions – Word And Phrase Descriptions

One List that I have never blogged is my Facial Expression List.

The reason for this is because some of these words and phrases are included on other lists like Let’s Get Mouthy, Nose Features, Eye Descriptions etc.

Recently, however, I glanced through this Facial Expression list and realized that while it is a hodgepodge of all different kinds of facial expression it also demonstrates how the face performs these expressions.

Facial Expressions are a form of body language and the great thing about body language is that it can be used instead of dialogue tags.

Who needs those wordy tags when the writer can “show” what the character is feeling or thinking? It’s so much more interesting!

A Face Can

Absorbed

Achieve

Alter

Anchored gaze

Assume

Be animated with

Be carved into

Be etched with

Be stamped with

Bevy of emotions marched

Cast him a [emotion]

Coated with

Color/flush/blush/rouge

Compose/recompose

Congeal

Cultivate

Distort

Divest of

Drew into

Drip with

Effaced

Emanate

Emotion flickered

Emotions vanish

Erase

Evaporate

Exhale relief/relax

Expose

Fall

Features shifted

Feign any emotion

Fix

Flash a fleeting

Forehead wrinkled

Furrow brows

Heavy lidded with

Inhale a gasp

Kill with a look

Limit reaction

Lips primed

Manage/marshaled

Mask/hide

Mouth curves

Muscles in face tightened

Pale/go white

Drain of color

Paste on

Perk up

Plaster on

Pucker lips

Pull an expression of

Purse lips

Recomposed

Reveal a play of emotions

Ripple with

Settle into

Skew/scrunch up

Slacken

Squeeze eyes shut

Stick out a chin/jut

Stick out a tongue

Stifle an emotion

Strive for

Struggle

Tighten muscles/lips

Translate

Turn down at the mouth

Turn up at the lips

Wear a

A Face Can Appear …

Affable

Agonized

Airy

Ambiguous

Angelic

Anguished

Animated

Appalled

Austere

Beatific

Belligerent

Benevolent

Beseeching

Bitter

Bland

Bleak

Buoyant

Calculating

Capricious/impulsive

Chastened

Chivalric

Composed

Comic

Cocky

Cruel

Cynical

Defeated

Distressed

Dolorous/sorrowful

Dubious/doubtful

Earnest

Ecstatic

Effervescent

Emphatic

Equivocal

Exalted

Far-off

Faraway

Ferocious

Forlorn

Furtive

Genial

Gladsome

Grave

Grim

Half-absorbed

Half-pathetic

Hangdog

Haunted

Idiotic

Idyllic

Imbecile

Impassioned

Injured/hurt/in pain

Inscrutable

Jovial

Lackluster

Lofty

Lucid

Lugubrious/mournful

Luminous

Maudlin

Meek/mild

Menacing

Merry

Mirthless

Moody

Mutinous

Noble

Non-committal

Nonsensical

Ominous

Open

Owlish

Pedantic/uninspired/bookish

Peevish

Pessimistic

Petulant

Plaintive

Poignant

Predatory

Preoccupied

Prim

Professional

Provoked

Puzzled

Radiant

Quarrelsome

Queer

Quizzical

Positive Expressions – Obviously there is a wide range of positive expressions. These are just a few to jump-start ideas. 

Cocky wink and confident smile

Smile dangled from the corner of his mouth

Amusement flickered

Composed her features into encouragement

Emanated humor

Eyes translated her

Flashed him a triumphant grin

Grinned despite himself

Honey-coated smile

One side of his mouth lifted in a lopsided grin

Plastered on a cheerful face

Roguish grin exposed even white teeth

Slow and sexy smile that started with his heavy-lidded eyes

Stared off at something only she could see

Stared with cow eyes at her hero

Wicked smile touched her smug features

Negative Expressions –

Damning glance

A frown spread across his stern face

A mask of teenage angst/pleasure/joyless/boredom/dislike

Angry face relaxed at hearing the news

Baleful glare/sinister/foreboding

Browbeaten, downcast droop of his head

Brows furrowed and his mouth drew into a grim line

Condescending smile that begged to be slugged

Crimson with fury

Doubt plowed his brow

Down-in-the- mouth expression

Drew into a mutinous pout

Every nuance of her face screamed frustration

Forehead puckered in a frown

Freezing contempt

Furious gaze circled the empty room

Grief rippled across

Handed it over shame-faced

Hangdog look of the downbeaten

Happiness congealed then melted into horror

Hatred stamped his rugged features

His blush belied his nonchalance

Leered evilly

Like she’s been chewing on a lemon rind

Lips pursed in displeasure

Malicious grin curled his lips

Mouth flapped several times as the knife waved before his face

Nose wrinkled in distaste

Rebellious face of a teenager

Regarded her with icy intolerance

Scowl settled on his smudged features

Stone-hard features

Tearful humiliation

Vexed, she bit her lip and glanced away

Miscellaneous Expressions

You’ll note that some of these expressions are cross-overs from the above lists.

A long measuring look

Cast him a chary/wary/shy/timid/choosy glance

Crossed her eyes in humorous exasperation

Expression that inspired fear and respect

Face impassive but she knew he was pissed off

Features stamped with

Golden skin rouged with emotion

Managed a deadpan expression

Muscles in her face tightened, shifting his features into a hard stare

Nodded soberly and anchored his gaze on

Put on his bull-dog face and jutted his stubborn whiskered chin

Recomposed her face into a semblance of calm

Sentimentality vanished like a slate wiped clean

Skewed up her face into

Slacked-mouth surprise

Smug tilt of her nose

Studied with an absorbed expression

Toothy smile of eagerness

Wary smile surfaced on her lips

Zombie stare was unnerving

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1 Response to Facial Expressions – Word And Phrase Descriptions

  1. Excellent and comprehensive list. Thank you.

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