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Character Traits

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Whether you need to identify character traits to do a character analysis, or you are trying to come up with traits to develop a character for your own story, it is always helpful to see a list of examples as a tool for brainstorming.

Character traits are the qualities of a certain person, whether they are physical or emotional. You determine some traits by observing the way a character looks. You infer other traits by paying attention to the way the character behaves.

Need some practice? You can practice naming character traits by using one-word answers to describe a family member. You might describe your father as:

  • tall
  • comical
  • moody
  • faithful
  • chubby

If you think about it, you know some of these characteristics by looking at your father. Others, you only know from experience over time.

The traits that make up a character are not always stated in a story; you will have to determine each character's qualities as you read, by thinking about that person's actions.

Here are a few traits we can infer from actions:

Jesse had no idea how deep the river was. He just jumped.
Trait: reckless

Amanda had no idea why everyone else was laughing as she strolled around the room in mismatched shoes.
Trait: clueless

Susan jumped every time the door opened.
Trait: jittery

If you are trying to write a descriptive essay about a character in a book, search through the book and place a sticky note in the pages that contain interesting words or actions involving your character. Then go back and read the passages again to gain some sense of personality.

Note: This is when an electronic book comes in very handy! You can do a word search with your character name. Always ry to find an e-version of a book if you need to write any type of book report or review.

List of Traits

It is sometimes helpful to consult a list of examples to boost your own imagination. This list of traits may prompt you to identify a trait in a character you're studying.

  • adventurous
  • agitated
  • bear-like
  • beastly
  • believable
  • brooding
  • charitable
  • clever
  • clownish
  • comical
  • crooked
  • curious
  • daring
  • daunting
  • dauntless
  • dear
  • dejected
  • demeaning
  • demented
  • determined
  • devilish
  • dodgy
  • doom-filled
  • dour
  • downcast
  • droll
  • easy-going
  • eccentric
  • edgy
  • egotistical
  • emaciated
  • enchanting
  • enthralling
  • exceptional
  • extroverted
  • exuberant
  • fastidious
  • feeble
  • fiendish
  • fishy
  • forgiving
  • frank
  • free-spirited
  • gabby
  • gifted
  • gigantic
  • glowing
  • go-getter
  • golden-haired
  • good-natured
  • goofy
  • gossipy
  • grim
  • grounded
  • gullible
  • happy
  • hateful
  • haunting
  • heroic
  • high-maintenance
  • homey
  • humanitarian
  • icky
  • ill at ease
  • impertinent
  • impulsive
  • incapable
  • inconsiderate
  • insolent
  • introverted
  • jittery
  • jocular
  • jolly
  • jovial
  • kind
  • lanky
  • laughable
  • lazy
  • lethargic
  • listless
  • longing
  • long-winded
  • lovely
  • loving
  • loyal
  • malleable
  • manly
  • mannerless
  • masterful
  • meandering
  • merry
  • mirthful
  • miserable
  • miserly
  • mocking
  • nervous
  • neurotic
  • omnipresent
  • optimistic
  • organized
  • otherworldly
  • outlandish
  • overbearing
  • overwrought
  • pedantic
  • phony
  • picky
  • prophetic
  • protective
  • quick-witted
  • quirky
  • quizzical
  • reckless
  • rude
  • sad
  • self-assured
  • sensitive
  • serious
  • short
  • shy
  • silly
  • skilled
  • skittish
  • sleepy
  • smelly
  • smoldering
  • sneaky
  • sober
  • solemn
  • somber
  • sour
  • spellbinding
  • spiritual
  • spunky
  • stern
  • studious
  • sugary
  • thoughtful
  • together
  • tough
  • towering
  • unbalanced
  • unethical
  • unlucky
  • unstable
  • unyielding
  • uptight
  • wacky
  • warmhearted
  • weird
  • well-adjusted
  • white-haired
  • withered
  • worrisome
  • wretched
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