Leading and Caring for Children

Emotion Vocabulary

Vocabulary of Emotions PDF

I spent some time with a dictionary and a thesaurus gathering words that represent in English a variety of emotions and feelings, and I put those words in column categories that seemed similar and divided them into strong, medium, and light. Emotions aren’t all bad, you know.

Happiness — Caring — Depression — Inadequacy — Fear — Confusion — Hurt — Anger — Loneliness — Remorse


Of course I cannot list every word, but I hoped I could generate a comparably sized set in each category, so people in the helping professions, especially teachers of very young children, would be able to glance at a chart on the wall to scan for a word that might match what a child is feeling at the moment. I had four copies up in different places in the classroom. I used them frequently.

Mad Sad Angry

Note that mad, sad, and angry are missing.

  • What do you do when you are mad?    Scream and yell.
  • What do you do when you are sad?     Cry.
  • What do you do when you are mad?    Strike out.

In contrast:

  • What do you do when you are bewildered or lonely or any of the other 480 words on this list?
    There isn’t an action associated with the emotion word, only attentiveness and reflection.

To me that proves that angry, sad, and mad might be avoided in favor of something more challenging.

This document does not fit on a screen, so you have to download it as a PDF to read it.

Vocabulary of Emotions PDF

The document is in the public domain. Feel free to use it. I understand teachers of English in other countries find it helpful. Please pass it forward.

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