English Words that Describe Behaviour

An A-Z of English words and phrases that describe behaviour.


active = always doing something: “She’s an active person and never wants to stay in.”

aggressive = being angry or threatening: “He’s aggressive and starts arguments.”

ambitious = wanting to succeed: “He’s ambitious and wants to lead the company.”

argumentative = always arguing with people: “He won’t accept what you say – he’s argumentative and loves to disagree!”

arrogant = thinking you are better than anyone else: “He always behaves as if nobody else’s opinion is important – “I find him very arrogant.”

assertive = being confident, so people can’t force you to do things you don’t want to do: “It’s important to be assertive at work.”


bad-tempered = in a bad mood: “What’s got into him lately? He’s so bad-tempered.”

big-headed = thinking you’re very important or clever: “I’ve never met anyone so big-headed!”

bossy = telling people what to do all the time: “He’s so bossy – he never lets me do things the way I want to do them.”


careless = not taking care: “He’s a careless driver – “I’m sure he’ll have an accident.”

caring = wanting to help people: “My boss is caring and often asks me how things are going.”

catty = saying nasty or spiteful things about other people: “I know you don’t like her, but calling her names is a bit catty.”

cautious = being careful, so that you avoid mistakes: “He’s cautious about investing money in the stock market.”

charming = pleasant and likeable: “What a charming man!”

cheeky = being rude or disrespectful: “It was a bit cheeky of him to ask for more money.”

clever = intelligent: “She’s a clever student and picks things up quickly.”

conceited = thinking you’re very clever, or better than others: “He’s so conceited – he thinks everyone should admire him.”

conscientious = doing something carefully, because you want to do it well: “She’s a conscientious student and always does her homework.”

considerate = thinking and caring about others: “My neighbour brought me flowers when I was in hospital – he’s very considerate.” (“That was considerate of him.”)

coy = pretending to be shy so that you don’t have to give information: “He’s very coy about his qualifications – maybe he doesn’t have any.”

creative = someone who can make or design things, or can think of solutions to a problem: “She’s creative and artistic.”

curious = wanting to know things: “I’m curious to find out what you think of the situation.”


deceitful = trying to make people think something, so that you get what you want: “He lied to get this job – he’s so deceitful.”

docile = quiet and submissive: “She’s a docile child and always does what she’s told.”

dogmatic = wanting others to accept your ideas without discussion: “He’s a dogmatic politician and always thinks he’s right.”

domineering = trying to control other people: “He’s loud and domineering in the office – it’s difficult to get him to listen to us.”


enthusiastic = having a lot of interest in something: “He’s an enthusiastic supporter of equal rights.”

excitable = someone who easily gets excited: “He gets very excitable about politics – it’s one of his passions in life.”

extroverted = outgoing and lively: “She’s extroverted and loves going out with people.”


faithful = being loyal to someone or something: “She’s a faithful friend.”

fickle = changing your mind and being unpredictable: “Politicians can be fickle when it suits them!”

flaky = slightly unstable and unreliable: “She’s a little flaky at times, but otherwise she’s a good worker.”

full of himself = acting proud of yourself: “He was full of himself after he got the promotion – it got annoying after a while.”

funny = making other people laugh: “He can be extremely funny when he’s in the mood.”

fussy = only liking certain things: “She’s fussy about what she wears.”


good-natured = kind and thoughtful: “She’s good-natured and always tries to help.”

grumpy = someone who tends to be in a bad mood: “He’s always grumpy in the morning and never says ‘hello’.”


happy-go-lucky = not worrying about what might happen in the future: “He’s a bit happy-go-lucky and doesn’t think about the future.”


impulsive = doing things without thinking first: “If he sees something he likes, he just buys it – he can be so impulsive at times!”

inconsiderate = not considering other people or their feelings: “It was a little inconsiderate of him not to give you a get-well card.”

introverted = opposite of extroverted: “He was introverted as a teenager, but became more confident as he got older.”

inventive = able to think up new ideas: “As head of Marketing, he can often think of inventive ways to keep his customers happy.”

irritating = annoying others: “He can be very irritating to work with.”


jokey = making jokes: “You’re in a jokey mood today, but we’ve got work to do!”

jolly = happy and cheerful: “It was the weekend and everyone was in a jolly mood.”


kind = thoughtful and caring: “My neighbour is kind – she looked after my cat when I was on holiday.”


loud-mouthed = someone who talks a lot and often says offensive things: “Don’t worry about what he said – he’s loud-mouthed at times.”

loyal = someone who is faithful and stands by you: “His colleagues were loyal to him when he was having problems with his boss.”


manic = behaving in a slightly crazy way: “We’re a bit manic at the moment – we’re rushing to finish the work before our deadline.”

manipulative = trying to get people to do what you want, by influencing or deceiving them: “She’s very manipulative when she wants something.”

moody = having unpredictable moods: “Some people think he’s moody – you never know if he’s happy or grumpy.”


nervous = uncomfortable with a situation: “I’m always nervous before an exam.”


old-fashioned = behaving or thinking in a way that isn’t modern: “He’s a bit old-fashioned and thinks women shouldn’t work.”

opinionated = having strong opinions: “He’s opinionated and dogmatic – the last person you want to negotiate with.”


passive = not assertive – doing what other people want you to do without arguing: “He’s passive at work, but domineering at home.”

perfectionist = someone who wants perfection: “Her boss is a perfectionnist – no spelling mistakes are allowed.”

persuasive = being able to persuade people to do things or to accept your ideas: “He’s a persuasive talker.”

picky = only liking certain things or people: “She’s picky about her friends.”

playful = someone who likes to play and have fun: “You’re in a playful mood today!”

pleasant = nice and polite: “The bank manager was pleasant to me today.”

polite = showing good manners: “She’s polite and never forgets to say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’.”

pragmatic = being practical and aware of your limitations: “She’s pragmatic at work and only does what she can.”


quick-tempered = getting angry quickly: “He was quick-tempered when he was young, but he’s more relaxed now.”


reserved = keeping your ideas and thoughts to yourself: “He’s reserved, but polite.”

rude = impolite: “He’s very rude and never says ‘please’ or ‘thank you’.”


scatter-brained / scatty = someone who often forgets things: “Don’t you remember where you put your wallet? You’re so scatter-brained!”

serious = not light-hearted: “He’s a serious student and always does his homework.”

shy = quiet, because you are not very confident: “He’s so shy and hates saying anything to people he doesn’t know.”

sincere = saying what you believe (opposite of insincere): “He’s sincere in his beliefs.”

slapdash = doing your work quickly and carelessly: “He’s got a very slapdash attitude – I doubt he’ll ever become a lawyer.”

slimy = trying to get what you want by being over-friendly: “That man is so slimy – he makes me feel sick!”

sly = doing things in a secretive way: “You never know what he’s up to – he’s sly and manipulative.”

spiteful = trying to hurt other people because you didn’t get what you wanted: “If she doesn’t get what she wants, she can be quite spiteful.”


thoughtful = someone who thinks a lot: “He’s a thoughtful person and won’t do anything unless he has considered the consequences.”

thoughtless = not thinking about people or the consequences of your actions: “I’m sure he didn’t mean to be rude – he can be thoughtless at times.”

trustworthy = someone you can trust: “My accountant is really trustworthy.”


volatile quickly changing moods: “He’s easily excitable and pretty volatile.”


witty = being able to make other people laugh by what you say: “He’s witty and charming – the perfect person to invite to a party.”

Behaviour Vocabulary

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