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List of Character Traits

My students are generally pretty perceptive when it comes to interpreting the motives and behaviors of characters. What they lack is an adequate vocabulary to appropriately describe the characters. I have used this list to help my students advance their character trait vocabularies, and I hope that it will help you too. Here is a list of mostly challenging character trait words. Some of these words are easily understood by most English language speakers; however, most of these words are challenging and unfamiliar to students. Use this list to help your students expand their character trait vocabulary.

View the List of Character Trait Words as a PDF
Edit the List of Character Trait Words as an RTF File


  • adoring
  • adventurous
  • ambitious
  • argumentative
  • arrogant
  • articulate
  • bashful
  • beautiful
  • bellicose
  • belligerent
  • bewildered
  • boastful
  • bright
  • brilliant
  • calculating
  • calm
  • cantankerous
  • cautious
  • classy
  • clever
  • compassionate
  • complacent
  • confident
  • conniving
  • conscientious
  • considerate
  • cooperative
  • cordial
  • courageous
  • cunning
  • curious
  • dainty
  • daring
  • dashing
  • dastardly
  • deceitful
  • decent
  • deceptive
  • defiant
  • delicate
  • determined
  • devious
  • devout
  • disagreeable
  • dreaded
  • dubious
  • duplicitous
  • dutiful
  • eager
  • efficient
  • eloquent
  • emphatic
  • encouraging
  • energetic
  • enterprising
  • enthusiastic
  • errant
  • expressive
  • extroverted
  • exuberant
  • facetious
  • faithful
  • fatigued
  • felicitous
  • flippant
  • forceful
  • forgiving
  • forthright
  • fortitudinous
  • fortunate
  • frustrated
  • garish
  • generous
  • gentle
  • giddy
  • glamorous
  • good-natured
  • gorgeous
  • graceful
  • gracious
  • grateful
  • gregarious
  • gullible
  • handsome
  • handy
  • hardy
  • harsh
  • helpful
  • homely
  • honest
  • honorable
  • hopeful
  • hospitable
  • hostile
  • humble
  • imaginative
  • immoral
  • impartial
  • imperial
  • impish
  • impulsive
  • indecisive
  • independent
  • intelligent
  • intolerant
  • intrepid
  • intriguing
  • introspective
  • introverted
  • inventive
  • jaded
  • jealous
  • jolly
  • jovial
  • jubilant
  • judgmental
  • just
  • juvenile
  • keen
  • kingly
  • knavish
  • knightly
  • knowledgeable
  • lackadaisical
  • lavish
  • lazy
  • lecherous
  • legendary
  • lethargic
  • lewd
  • liberal
  • lovable
  • loyal
  • malevolent
  • malicious
  • manipulative
  • materialistic
  • matronly
  • meek
  • melancholy
  • meritorious
  • meticulous
  • mischievous
  • monstrous
  • moronic
  • morose
  • munificent
  • narcissistic
  • naïve
  • nervous
  • neurotic
  • neutral
  • noble
  • nonchalant
  • nostalgic
  • nubile
  • nurturing
  • obese
  • obnoxious
  • obsequious
  • obsessed
  • obtuse
  • opinionated
  • optimistic
  • opulent
  • ornery
  • ostentatious
  • partisan
  • passive
  • patient
  • patriotic
  • penitent
  • perceptive
  • perfectionist
  • personable
  • pessimistic
  • pitiful
  • playful
  • pleasant
  • pompous
  • proud
  • prudent
  • punctilious
  • punctual
  • quaint
  • quarrelsome
  • quiet
  • quirky
  • quizzical
  • rambunctious
  • rancorous
  • rash
  • rational
  • reasonable
  • rebellious
  • reserved
  • resilient
  • respectful
  • responsible
  • reverent
  • rigid
  • rotund
  • rowdy
  • ruthless
  • saintly
  • sensible
  • sensitive
  • serious
  • shallow
  • sheepish
  • shrewd
  • sinister
  • slovenly
  • sociable
  • spontaneous
  • stately
  • staunch
  • stealthy
  • stern
  • strict
  • stubborn
  • studious
  • tenacious
  • terrifying
  • thoughtful
  • thrifty
  • timid
  • tolerant
  • treacherous
  • treasonous
  • truculent
  • trusting
  • uncouth
  • understanding
  • unfortunate
  • unscrupulous
  • unwise
  • vain
  • vehement
  • vengeful
  • versatile
  • vindictive
  • wasteful
  • willful
  • wise
  • xenophobic
  • youthful
  • zealous

Common Core State Standards Related to Characterizations

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3 – Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Expand to View All Common Core State Standards Related to Characterizations

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.3 – With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.1.3 – Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.3 – Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.7 – Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.3 – Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.3 – Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3 – Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.3 – Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.3 – Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.3 – Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3 – Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3 – Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

View Source
Common Core Lesson and Unit Plans
Understanding Common Core State Standards

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Characterization Project to Use with This List
Characterizations Worksheets
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13 Comments

  1. Denise

     /  September 3, 2018

    Wow so much good stuff!! Thank You

    Reply
  2. Liza Schlinger

     /  January 30, 2018

    Wow, truly amazing lessons! Everything is put together so well, the lessons and materials flow together making sense for the students, and definitely help students to understand the differences. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  3. Macenzie

     /  December 1, 2017

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     /  November 29, 2017

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     /  November 29, 2017

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     /  May 13, 2016

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  7. Peggy

     /  April 5, 2016

    This is exactly what I was looking for — you saved me a lot of time and energy. THANK YOU.

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  8. earnestine

     /  December 18, 2014

    Awesome! I love you for this site.

    Reply
  9. jam

     /  November 30, 2013

    thank you very much for the effort you did here. it’s very helpful and easy to understand. I hope you will not stop for doing this. More power and God bless

    Reply
  10. Vicki Miller

     /  October 5, 2013

    WOW! I have been teaching for 19 years and it is about time that someone put all of this together! It is amazing and wonderful, wonderful. Thank you!!!

    Reply
  11. OMG! This is the best website I have come across that has lessons and worksheets that cover the CORE curriculum that we don’t have in our outdated textbooks. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    Reply

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