Master List of Facial Expressions

FACIAL EXPRESSIONS LIST | young woman smiling and scrunching up her eyes #Master Lists for Writers free pdf #Master Lists for Writers free ebook #expression words list #facial expression descriptions #list of facial expressions for writers #master lists for writers #ways to describe facial expressions #words for facial expressions

This facial expressions list for writers is one of my all-time most popular posts. A lot of writers keep this page bookmarked! Writers need good facial expression descriptions in their writing to help the readers picture the characters, to convey emotions, and to set up lines of dialogue without having to write “said” or any of its synonyms. However, it’s easy for us to rely on the same descriptions over and over again. And sometimes in the middle of writing, when we’re trying to find the words to describe an angry expression or a sad expression, we draw a blank.


I created this list of words for facial expressions to address that challenge. The expressions are broken down by the part of the face. Note that some of them work for more than one emotion—a person might narrow their eyes out of vindictiveness or skepticism, for instance, and their face might turn red out of anger or out of embarrassment. Some of them require a little more explanation on your part. You’ll have to say what she’s glaring at, or if his face is contorting in rage, or grief, or what. And not all of these will work for every character—it depends on what they look like and how they generally react to things. Some of these aren’t exactly facial expressions, but useful for dialogue tags. In many cases I’ve given several ways to describe the same thing. While I have included some longer phrases, they are not proprietary and it’s fine to use them. Here’s the facial expressions list. You might want to pin it for future reference! WORDS TO DESCRIBE FACIAL EXPRESSIONS: A Master List for Writers! #Master Lists for Writers free pdf #Master Lists for Writers free ebook #facial expressions list #facial expression descriptions #list of facial expressions for writers #master lists for writers #ways to describe facial expressions #words for facial expressions

Ways to Describe Expressions Related to the Eyes and Eyebrows

his eyes widened

their eyes went round

her eyelids drooped

his eyes narrowed

his eyes lit up

his eyes darted

he squinted

she blinked

her eyes twinkled

his eyes gleamed

her eyes sparkled

his eyes flashed

her eyes glinted

his eyes burned with…

her eyes blazed with…

her eyes sparked with…

her eyes flickered with…

_____ glowed in his eyes

the corners of his eyes crinkled

she rolled her eyes

he looked heavenward

she glanced up to the ceiling


she winked

tears filled her eyes

his eyes welled up

her eyes swam with tears

his eyes flooded with tears

her eyes were wet

their eyes glistened

tears shimmered in her eyes

tears shone in his eyes

her eyes were glossy

he was fighting back tears

tears ran down her cheeks

his eyes closed

she squeezed her eyes shut

he shut his eyes

his lashes fluttered

she batted her lashes

his brows knitted frowning, glaring man | FACIAL EXPRESSIONS LIST

her forehead creased

his forehead furrowed

her forehead puckered

a line appeared between their brows

his brows drew together

her brows snapped together

his eyebrows rose

she raised a brow

he lifted an eyebrow

his eyebrows waggled

she gave him a once-over

he sized her up

her eyes bored into him

she took in the sight of…

he glared

she peered

he gazed

she glanced

he stared

she scrutinized

he studied

she gaped

he observed

she surveyed

he gawked

he leered

his pupils (were) dilated

her pupils were huge

his pupils flared

Ways to Describe Expressions Related to the Nose

her nose crinkled

his nose wrinkled

she sneered

his nostrils flared

she stuck her nose in the air

he sniffed

she sniffled

Ways to Describe Expressions Related to the Mouth

she smiled

he smirked

she grinned

he simpered

she beamed

her mouth curved into a smile

the corners of his mouth turned up

the corner of her mouth quirked up

a corner of his mouth lifted

his mouth twitched

he gave a half-smile

she gave a lopsided grin

his mouth twisted woman's mouth quirked to the side | FACIAL EXPRESSIONS LIST #Master Lists for Writers free pdf #Master Lists for Writers free ebook #words to describe facial expressions

he plastered a smile on his face

she forced a smile

he faked a smile

their smile faded

his smile slipped

he pursed his lips

she pouted

his mouth snapped shut

her mouth set in a hard line

he pressed his lips together

she bit her lip

he drew his lower lip between his teeth

she nibbled on her bottom lip

he chewed on his bottom lip

his jaw set

her jaw clenched

his jaw tightened

a muscle in her jaw twitched

he ground his jaw

he snarled/his lips drew back in a snarl

her mouth fell open

his jaw dropped

her jaw went slack

he gritted his teeth

she gnashed her teeth

her lower lip trembled

his lower lip quivered

Ways to Describe Reactions Related to the Skin

she paled

he blanched

she went white

the color drained out of his face

his face reddened

her cheeks turned pink

his face flushed

she blushed

he turned red

she turned scarlet

he turned crimson

a flush crept up her face

Ways to Describe Expressions Having to Do With the Whole Face

he screwed up his face

she scrunched up her face

they grimaced

she winced

she gave him a dirty look

he frowned

she scowled

he glowered

her whole face lit up

she brightened


his face went blank her face contorted his face twisted her expression closed up his expression dulled her expression hardened she went poker-faced a vein popped out in his neck awe transformed his face fear crossed her face sadness clouded his features terror overtook his face recognition dawned on her face I hope you found this facial expressions list useful! I have many more lists like it in my book Master Lists for Writers: Thesauruses, Plots, Character Traits, Names, and More. I think it’s a great tool for making “show don’t tell” easier and for inspiration during every part of the writing process. Check it out!Master Lists for Writers by Bryn Donovan #master lists for writers free pdf #master lists for writers free ebook

And if you don’t want to miss future free writing lists and other posts about writing, follow the blog — there’s a place to sign up at the lefthand side of the page. Happy writing!

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