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Words used to describe facial expressions

absent

adjective

showing that you are not paying attention to what is happening because you are thinking about something else

appealing

adjective

an appealing look, voice etc shows that you want help, approval, or agreement

beatific

adjective

a beatific expression on your face is extremely happy and peaceful

black

adjective

showing angry or unhappy feelings

bleak

adjective

used about someone’s expression

brooding

adjective

looking as if you are thinking and worrying about something

bug-eyed

adjective

very excited or interested, so that your eyes are wide open

curious

adjective

used about someone’s expression

dark

adjective

a dark look or remark is angry and threatening

darkly

adverb

in an angry and threatening way

deadpan

adjective

pretending to be serious when you are really joking

doleful

adjective

looking sad

downcast

adjective

downcast eyes are looking downwards, especially because you are sad, embarrassed, or shy

dreamy

adjective

a dreamy look, expression etc shows that you are thinking about something pleasant rather than paying attention

etched

adjective

if a feeling is etched on someone’s face, their expression shows clearly what they are feeling

expressionless

adjective

not allowing your feelings to show in your face, eyes, or voice

faint

adjective

used about the expression on someone’s face

fixed

adjective

a fixed expression on someone’s face does not change or look natural

glazed

adjective

a glazed look or expression shows no interest or emotion

glowering

adjective

looking very angry

grave

adjective

looking very serious and worried

haunted

adjective

someone who has a haunted look looks frightened or worried

hunted

adjective

someone who has a hunted look seems very worried or frightened

meaningful

adjective

expressing a clear feeling or thought without words

mild

adjective

a mild feeling or expression is one that is not very strong or severe

mischievous

adjective

a mischievous look or expression shows that you enjoy having fun by causing trouble

mobile

adjective

moving a lot and showing changes in what you are feeling

Mona Lisa

adjective

used for describing a mysterious smile or expression on a woman’s face

pained

adjective

showing that you feel very upset or unhappy

pitying

adjective

a pitying expression shows that you feel pity for someone, but sometimes also that shows you do not think they deserve respect

pleading

adjective

a pleading look shows that you want something very much

pleadingly

adverb

if you say something pleadingly, or if you look at someone pleadingly, your voice or expression shows that you want something very much

quizzical

adjective

showing that you are confused or surprised by something, and perhaps that you think it is rather strange and funny

radiant

adjective

someone who is radiant looks extremely happy

roguish

adjective

a roguish expression suggests that someone is likely to do something that is wrong but not harmful

sardonic

adjective

a sardonic smile, expression, or comment shows a lack of respect for what someone else has said or done

set

adjective

a set smile or expression does not change, and often hides what someone is really thinking

shamefaced

adjective

with an expression that shows you feel ashamed about something

slack-jawed

adjective

with your mouth open

sly

adjective

a sly smile, look, or remark shows that the person doing it knows something that other people do not know

smiley

adjective

smiling, or tending to smile often

straight-faced

adjective

not showing that you want to laugh

sullen

adjective

showing that you are in an unhappy mood, and do not want to talk

sullen

adjective

used about someone’s expression or attitude

taut

adjective

used about something such as a voice or expression that shows someone is nervous or angry

thoughtful

adjective

used about someone’s face or expression

tight-lipped

adjective

someone who is tight-lipped has their lips pressed tightly together because they are annoyed about something or they do not approve of it

unblinking

adjective

looking straight at someone or something without closing your eyes at all

unreadable

adjective

if someone’s face, eyes, or expression are unreadable, you cannot guess what they are thinking

vacant

adjective

looking as if you do not understand or are not paying attention

wan

adjective

used about someone who looks very sad

wanly

adverb

with a tired sad expression on your face

wide-eyed

adjective

with an expression that shows that you are very surprised, frightened, or impressed

wild-eyed

adjective

someone who is wild-eyed looks very angry or frightened

withering

adjective

a withering look, expression, or remark deliberately makes you feel silly or embarrassed

wolfish

adjective

looking as though you want to hurt or trick someone

worried

adjective

used about the expression on people’s faces

wry

adjective

showing that you think something is funny but not very pleasant, often by the expression on your face

beatifically

adverb

deadpan

adverb

dolefully

adverb

expressionlessly

adverb

mischievously

adverb

pityingly

adverb

pouty

adjective

quizzically

adverb

radiantly

adverb

sardonically

adverb

scowling

adjective

shamefacedly

adverb

sullenly

adverb

sullenness

noun

unblinkingly

adverb

vacantly

adverb

witheringly

adverb

wolfishly

adverb

wryly

adverb

on someone’s face

used for saying that someone’s face has a particular expression

straight face

if someone has a straight face, they look serious even though they are saying something funny or are in a funny situation

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