The Usage of Adjectives in Face Description

Adjectives Used for Face & Appearance Description

Face, Mouth, Lips, and Nose

To describe the shape of the face we can use the following adjectives: long, round, square, triangular, oval, with regular features, irregular, thin, lean, bony, with hollow cheeks, with a scar, with moles, with smooth skin, lined, ruddy, with freckles, chiseled, wide, thin, heart-shaped.

The expression of the face (usually) can be described by the following adjectives: winning, cheerful, friendly, charming, smiling, radiant, warm, fun, funny, nice, serene, anguished, anxious, sullen, sad, cross, worried, menacing, pensive, lively expression, a tense face, a wild expression, gloomy, frowning, expressive.

Lip shape and size: thin, full, pouting, rosebud (baby’s lips, often), pursed (puckered up, as when concentrating), protuberant lips, red, thin, thick.

Mouth expressions: laugh, smile, beam, grin, frown, grimace, scowl, sneer, curl, pout, half-open, large, sweet

Adjectives describing the mouth or mouth expressions: toothy, toothless, gap-toothed, kind, sweet, dimpled, relaxed, firm, serious, cruel, snarling

Describing the nose: big, little, short, long, large, straight, thin, crooked, pointed, sharp, aquiline, flattened, snub, bulbous, turned-up [11].

Eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes, ears


Shape, size, and appearance: large, small, almond-shaped, round, squinty, crinkly, bulging, heavy-lidded, hooded, deep-set, close-set, hollow, tear-filled

Eye color: black, brown, hazel, green, blue, violet, gray, amber

Eye expressions: piercing, mesmerizing, sad, sorrowful, haunted, gentle, sympathetic, warm, compassionate, expressive, bright, twinkling, lively, dancing, laughing, shifty, sly, distrusting, sleepy

Other: brown-eyed boy, bright-eyed sister, wide-eyed child, gold-flecked eyes, almond-shaped, round, little, thin, bulging, brown, light-brown, dark, blue, light-blue, green, grey, made-up ,shortsighted, amazed, expressive, stunned, shining, sweet, smart, languishing, gentle, woeful, frightened, wide, bright


Adjectives for eyebrows: thick, thin, emphasized, spaced, near


Eylashes can be: long, short, spaced, made-up


Sticking, stick out, big, little, pointed [11].


Hair color: black, brunette, brown, chestnut-brown, blond, honey-blond, golden-blond, ash-blond, fair, cornsilk, auburn, red, strawberry-blond, gray, silver, white, salt-and-pepper.

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Texture or appearance: wispy, fuzzy, wavy, curly, kinky, frizzy, wild, untamed, unmanageable, straight, spiky, stiff, buzzed, shaved, parted, neatly-combed, tamed, cascading, long, short, cropped, dull, shiny.

Hair styles: braids, ponytail, pigtails, bun, messy bun, twist, bob, ringlets, flip, cornrows, extensions, bangs, buzz, layered, feathered, chopped, gelled, spiked, slicked down.

Lots of hair: thick, full, lustrous, bushy, coarse, wiry, stiff

Little hair: thin, scraggly, fine, baby-fine, downy, wispy, limp, flat, balding, bald, bald spot, receding (gradual loss of hair at the front of the head)

Treated hair: permed, dyed, bleached, highlighted, weaved, streaked, colored

Facial Hair: beard, goatee, mustache, soul patch, sideburns. Beard growth: stubble, fuzz, peach fuzz, bristles, five o’clock shadow (describes new beard growth that’s shadowy in appearance. It’s usually more noticeable late in the day on the jaw, chin, or cheek area, but some men purposely grow five o’clock shadows).

Adjectives: bearded, bushy, stubbly, bristly, scratchy, unshaven, shaggy, whiskered, beardless, clean-shaven, smooth, trimmed, neatly-trimmed, pencil-thin [11].

A Sample of Describing Person’s Face

What if you were asked to describe how something looks – a place, a thing, or a person? How should you arrange your ideas and sentences in the paragraph? Obviously, time order would not be logical. When you are describing the way something looks – its physical appearance – it is not time but space that is important. Therefore, you should arrange your sentences and details according to where the objects being described are located. This type of organization is called spatial organization. In a descriptive paragraph, you must make the location of the objects being described very clear.

A person’s appearance can be described in many ways. It is possible to tell about the person’s style of clothing, manner of walking, color and style of hair, facial appearance, body shape, and expression or even the person’s way of talking. Just what a writer selects to describe depends on the writer’s chosen topic and purpose. No matter what the topic, however, the writer is a painter with words, so the description must be vivid but also coherent – logically arranged – so that the reader can clearly envision who is being described. The following paragraph describes a person’s face with a spatial organization. Look at the following description and see if you can get a good image of what Mary looks like:

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“Mary is as beautiful as a Hollywood star. Her thick, wavy, long black hair gracefully falls down to her shoulders and encircles her diamond-shaped face. A golden suntan usually brings out her smooth, clear complexion and high cheek bones. Her slightly arched chestnut brown eyebrows highlight her emotions by moving up and down as she reacts to her world around her. Her large deep blue eyes, remind me of a lake on a stormy day. Her curved nose gives her a little girl look that makes me want to smile when she talks. And her mouth is a small mouth outlined by puffy lips that she often accentuates with glossy pink lipstick. When she smiles, which is often, her well formed and even, white teeth brighten up her whole face. I guess you can tell that I am head over heals in love with Mary.” [12]

By this paragraph, the reader can not only tell what Mary looks like but also what the author’s attitude about her outer appearance is.

Analysis of Adjectives usage in Instagram

The adjectives have been analyzed for frequency of appearance to describe the facial characteristics in Instagram. To perform this, the adjective was searched in Instagram, and the cases for facial characteristics description were calculated amount the first 20 search results. The results are presented in Table 1.

Table 1. Adjectives and their use for facial description in Instagram [13]

Adjective Quantity among the first 20 results
Absolute number Frequency, %
Beardless 17 85.7
Bony 4 19.0
Wavy 4 19.0
Kinky 12 61.0
Sleepy 7 33.3
Smooth 4 19.0
Bulbous 3 14.3
Sweet 2 9.5
Sad 8 38.1
Shiny 4 19.0
Amazed 5 23.8
Smiling 14 71.4
sorrowful 5 23.8
Friendly 4 19.0
Dull 8 38.1
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The Instagram usage illustrates the modern usage of these adjectives. The words beardless, kinky and smiling are preliminary used for facial description, the adjectives sad, sorrowful, and dull have also several other meanings. The other adjectives also describe different personal characteristics, and the facial description is just one of them. Hence, they are polyfuncional.

Face Description in Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

The word “face” is mentioned 75 times in the novel, and 60 are related to the noun “face”. Table 2 presents the examples and categorization of the adjectives used.

Table 2. The adjectives used for facial expression in Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf [14]

Citation Frequency Function
1 2 3
“a ridiculous little face”

“little pink face”



Total 3 / 5%

“sallow pointed face”



Total 2 / 3.33%

“little pink face”

“delicate pink face”

“small pink face”

“with large eyes in a sallow pointed face”

“round-eyed, pale-faced girl”

“sunburnt face”

“pink innocent oval to a face lean,”

“very red in the face”










Total 14 / 23.33%
“a ridiculous little face”

“delicate pink face”

“pink innocent oval to a face lean” “contracted, hostile”



Total 2 / 3.33%
1 2 3
“worn old face” 1 Age
Total 1 / 1.65%
“face, beaked like a bird’s”

“dashed in his face like bunches of roses”



Total 2 / 3.33%
“pretty face”

“fine face”

“adorably pretty face”




Total 4 / 6.67%