583 Sensory Phrases to Take Your Writing from Bland to Good


It’s nearly too straightforward.

By utilizing sensory phrases to evoke sight, sound, contact, style, and odor; smart and attractive writers identical to you’ll be able to make their phrases burst to life of their readers’ minds.

On this submit, you’ll study:

  • The science behind sensory particulars (e.g. why sensory phrases are so persuasive);
  • The definition of sensory particulars (plus examples);
  • How answering 5 easy questions will allow you to write descriptive particulars that pack your content material with sensory language;
  • 500+ sensory phrases you’ll be able to incorporate into your individual writing (proper now).

Let’s dive in.

The Colossal Energy of Sensory Particulars

Bear in mind the ultimate scene in Subject of Desires when Ray Kinsella has a catch along with his dad?

You may odor the grass on the sector.

You may hear the sound of the baseball hitting their gloves.

And you’ll really feel Ray’s years of guilt melting away as he closes his eyes, smiles, and tosses the ball again to his dad.

(Be trustworthy. You’re crying proper now, aren’t you?)

Subject of Desires made you’re feeling such as you have been in Ray’s sneakers, on his discipline, taking part in catch with dad.

The scene creates such a vivid expertise for a lot of viewers that every time they consider taking part in catch, this scene will come up alongside their very own childhood reminiscences.

Right here’s why:

If you paint a strong scene in your viewers’s thoughts, you make it simpler for them to tug it again up from their reminiscence. You’ve basically bookmarked it for them to allow them to simply discover it when one thing — a sight, a odor, a sound — reminds them of it.

That’s the facility of content material that includes sensory particulars.

And this energy isn’t restricted to cinema classics able to making grown males cry. For hundreds of years, literary giants have been packing their prose with powerful words that evoke the senses:

“Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the canines of struggle;
That this foul deed shall odor above the earth
With carrion males, groaning for burial”
— William Shakespeare (circa 1599)

Along with The Bard, authors like Maya Angelou, Edgar Allan Poe, and Charles Dickens excel at the usage of sensory language. So do actually each well-known poet you discovered about at school.

And that begs the apparent query…

Why are Sensory Particulars so Efficient?

Brief reply:

The brains of human beings deal with sensory phrases otherwise than strange phrases.

In a 2011 examine revealed in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, consultants discovered that our brains process “tangible” (i.e. sensory) words faster than different phrases.

And in a examine revealed for Mind and Language in 2012, psychologists discovered {that a} sure a part of our brain is “activated” when we read sensory words.

In different phrases:


So, we all know why sensory details are powerful. And we all know writers have been tapping into their energy for an extended, very long time.

Now let’s outline them and go over just a few examples:

Let’s break every one down:

1. Sight Sensory Phrases

Phrases associated to imaginative and prescient describe the looks of one thing (its coloration, dimension, form, and so forth).

Examples of sight phrases:

  • Her golden hair regarded matted because of the gust of wind.
  • He was a towering presence.
  • I ordered a big orange juice, however the waiter introduced me a teeny-tiny glass the dimensions of a thimble.

Click on right here to see all 185 sight sensory phrases

2. Sound Sensory Phrases

Phrases associated to listening to usually describe the sound they make (referred to as onomatopoeia), however this isn’t all the time the case.

Examples of listening to phrases:

  • He had a giant, booming voice.
  • The sound of screeching tires was quickly adopted by the deafening sound of a automobile horn.
  • As I glanced beneath the mattress, the cackling laughter coming from the closet made the hairs on my arms rise up.

Click on right here to see all 161 sound sensory phrases

3. Contact Sensory Phrases

Contact phrases describe the feel of how one thing feels. They will additionally describe emotional emotions.

Examples of contact phrases:

  • Two minutes into the interview, I knew his abrasive character can be a problem if we employed him.
  • With a pressured smile, I placed on the itchy Christmas sweater my grandmother purchased me.
  • The Sizzling Pocket was scalding on the skin, however ice-cold within the center.

Click on right here to see all 123 contact sensory phrases

4. Style Sensory Phrases

Style phrases are fascinating. Although they will describe meals, they’re usually utilized in comparisons and metaphors.

Examples of style phrases:

  • It’s a bittersweet state of affairs.
  • Her zesty character caught Karl’s eye.
  • The delicious jalapeno poppers comforted Karl after his bitter rejection.

Click on right here to see all 51 style sensory phrases

  1. Acidic
  2. Appetizing
  3. Bitter
  4. Bittersweet
  5. Bland
  6. Buttery
  7. Charred
  8. Contaminated
  9. Creamy
  10. Crispy
  11. Delectable
  12. Scrumptious
  13. Doughy
  14. Earthy
  15. Fermented
  16. Flavorful
  17. Flavorless
  18. Floury
  19. Garlicky
  20. Gingery
  21. Gritty
  22. Hearty
  23. Juicy
  24. Luscious
  25. Medicinal
  26. Mellow
  27. Melted
  28. Nauseating
  29. Nutritious
  30. Nutty
  31. Palatable
  32. Peppery
  33. Pickled
  34. Piquant
  35. Uncooked
  36. Refreshing
  37. Wealthy
  38. Ripe
  39. Salted
  40. Savory
  41. Delicious
  42. Stale
  43. Sugary
  44. Syrupy
  45. Tangy
  46. Tart
  47. Tasteless
  48. Unripe
  49. Vinegary
  50. Yummy
  51. Zesty

5. Odor Sensory Phrases

Phrases associated to odor describe — sure, you guessed it — how issues odor. Typically underutilized, sensory phrases related with odor might be very efficient.

Examples of odor phrases:

  • The pungent odor was unmistakable: somebody on this elevator was carrying Axe Physique Spray.
  • Irrespective of the expiration date, it was clear from its rancid stench the milk had gone unhealthy.
  • The flowery aroma was a welcome change after the elevator and milk incidents.

Click on right here to see all 47 odor sensory phrases

  1. Ambrosial
  2. Antiseptic
  3. Aroma
  4. Fragrant
  5. Briny
  6. Citrusy
  7. Decayed
  8. Decomposed
  9. Doggy
  10. Fetid
  11. Floral
  12. Flowery
  13. Foul-smelling
  14. Aromatic
  15. Gamy
  16. Gaseous
  17. Horrid
  18. Inodorous
  19. Malodorous
  20. Mephitic
  21. Musky
  22. Musty
  23. Odiferous
  24. Odor
  25. Odorless
  26. Previous
  27. Perfumed
  28. Piney
  29. Polluted
  30. Pungent
  31. Putrid
  32. Rancid
  33. Rank
  34. Redolent
  35. Reeking
  36. Scent
  37. Scented
  38. Sickly
  39. Skunky
  40. Odor
  41. Smoky
  42. Stagnant
  43. Stench
  44. Smelly
  45. Sweaty
  46. Tempting
  47. Whiff

Bonus: Style and Odor Sensory Phrases

As a result of they’re intently associated, some sensory phrases can be utilized for each style and odor. Examples: fruity, minty, and tantalizing.

Click on right here to see all 16 style & odor sensory phrases

  1. Acrid
  2. Burnt
  3. Fishy
  4. Recent
  5. Fruity
  6. Lemony
  7. Minty
  8. Moldy
  9. Mouth-watering
  10. Rotten
  11. Salty
  12. Bitter
  13. Spicy
  14. Spoiled
  15. Candy
  16. Tantalizing

Subsequent, we’ll take a look at just a few real-world examples of sensory particulars.

Sensory Particulars: Examples within the Wild

Think about the next headline got here throughout your Twitter feed:

Find out how to Keep away from Utilizing Boring Inventory Photograph Photographs in Your Content material

Would you click on it?

Higher query…

Might you learn the headline with out falling asleep?

The solutions are most likely “no” and “heck no.”

Now think about you noticed this headline:

Sensory Words in HeadlinesSensory Words in Headlines

Significantly better, proper?

The straightforward addition of the sensory phrase “cringeworthy” modifications the tone of the complete headline. As a substitute of yawning, you’re pondering of an ungainly or embarrassing second you actually don’t need to relive.

Let’s take a look at just a few extra modern-day examples of sharp folks utilizing sensory language to spruce up their content material:

Utilizing Sensory Phrases in Writer Bios

I’ll decide on me for this one.

Right here’s one in every of my outdated creator bios:

Kevin J. Duncan is the Editor of Sensible Blogger, the place he helps writers study the talents they should land writing gigs that pay.

Now take a look at the creator bio my buddy Henneke wrote for Writer’s Block: 27 Techniques to Overcome It Forever:

Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent copywriter and enterprise writing coach. She’s on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to make boring enterprise blogs sparkle.

My bio is devoid of sensory phrases (or any fascinating phrases in any respect, if we’re being trustworthy).

Henneke’s is chock stuffed with them.

Her bio is fascinating.

Mine is boring.

The lesson? Add no less than one sensory phrase to your creator bio.

Utilizing Sensory Phrases in Social Media Profiles

Some folks go for brevity when writing their social media profiles, and that’s advantageous.

However if you need your Twitter profile (or Fb, Instagram, or every other social media profile) to face out from the group, sprinkle in a sensory phrase or two.

Like so:

Sensory Words in Twitter Profiles

Sensory Words in Twitter Profiles

Mel Wicks is a veteran copywriter who is aware of a factor or two concerning the effectiveness of descriptive particulars, so she makes use of them to boost her Twitter profile.

Right here’s an instance from my badly-neglected Instagram account:

Sensory Words in Instagram ProfileSensory Words in Instagram Profile

“Enchanting” and “adorably-jubilant” are great sensory phrases — so great, it’s a disgrace they’re wasted on a profile nobody sees.

Have a look at your individual profiles and see if there’s a spot so as to add a sensory phrase or two. They’ll assist your profile soar off the display.

Heck, see if you should use enchanting and adorably-jubilant.

They need to be seen.

Utilizing Sensory Phrases in Introductions

The opening traces of your content material are so necessary.

When you’re a scholar, your opening units the tone in your instructor (who we each know is dying to make use of his crimson pen).

When you’re an creator, your opening might be the distinction between somebody shopping for your e-book or placing it again on the shelf in favor of a kind of Twilight books (most likely).

And should you’re a blogger, author, content material marketer, or enterprise; your opening can hook the reader (growing dwell time, which is nice in Google’s eyes) or ship them scurrying for the “again” button.

It’s why we put such an emphasis on introductions right here at Sensible Blogger.

Generally our openings hook you with a query.

Generally we strike a observe of empathy or (like this submit) give attention to searcher intent.

And generally we provide you with a heaping serving to of sensory phrases:

Think about you’re sitting in a lounge chair on the seashore, staring out over the glittering sea, the ocean breeze ruffling your hair, listening to the gradual, regular rhythm of the waves.

Within the above opening for How to Become a Freelance Writer, Starting from Scratch, Jon Morrow makes use of sensory language to set a scene for the reader.

And it’s extremely, extremely efficient.

Utilizing Sensory Phrases in E-mail Topic Traces

Such as you, your readers are flooded with emails.

And with open charges in a gradual decline, individuals are attempting something and all the things to make their electronic mail topic traces stand out:

  • Emojis;
  • Capitalized phrases;
  • All lowercase letters;
  • Two exclamation factors;
  • Clickbait that will make even BuzzFeed go, “that’s too far, man.”

You title it, individuals are attempting it.

Need a less complicated, far-more-effective approach to assist your emails stand out from the group?

Add a sensory phrase.

Brian Dean loves to incorporate phrases like “growth” in his topics:

Sensory Words in Email Subjects

Sensory Words in Email Subjects

The parents at AppSumo and Sumo (previously SumoMe) frequently function descriptive phrases of their topics and headlines.

Right here’s one instance:

Sensory Words in Email Subjects

Sensory Words in Email Subjects

And sensory language seems in most all the things Henneke writes, together with her topic traces.

On this one she additionally makes use of an emoji associated to her sensory phrase. Very intelligent:

Sensory Words in Email Subjects

Sensory Words in Email Subjects

Now that we’ve coated a number of examples, let’s dig a bit deeper…

Let’s talk about some sensible steps you’ll be able to take that may make including figurative language to your individual writing fashion a breeze:

How Descriptive Particulars Can Pack Your Writing With Sensory Language

When you’ve taken a great English or inventive writing class, you’ve most likely been advised a time or two to “present, don’t inform.”

This implies it is best to create an attractive expertise in your viewers; not simply inform them what you need them to know.

You accomplish this by utilizing descriptive writing that conveys sensations and lets readers expertise your phrases (quite than merely learn them).

And the way do you do this, precisely?

Ask your self these 5 questions while you’re writing:

#1. What Do You See?

It isn’t sufficient to inform your readers there was a scary home in your neighborhood while you have been a baby. Describe the home to them in vivid element.

What shade of grey was it?

Have been the doorways boarded up?

Exactly what number of ghostly figures did you see watching you from the upstairs bed room home windows, and what number of are standing behind you proper now?

Paint a psychological image in your readers.

#2. What Do You Hear?

We take heed to uptempo songs to push us via cardio exercises. Many people take heed to rainfall after we’re attempting to sleep. A few of us take heed to Justin Bieber after we need to punish our neighbors.

Wish to transplant readers into your literary world?

Discuss concerning the drip, drip, drip of the tap.

Point out the squeaking flooring beneath your toes.

Describe the terrible music coming out of your next-door-neighbor’s home.

#3. How Does it Really feel?

Contact sensory phrases can convey each tactile and emotional sensations.

Are you able to describe to the reader how one thing feels when touched? Is it clean or tough? Spherical or flat? Is it coated in goo or is it goo-less?

Paint an image in your reader to allow them to contact what you’re touching.

The identical goes for feelings. Assist the reader really feel what you (or your character) are feeling. Draw them in.

#4. What Does it Style Like?

Does the seashore air style salty? Is the roaring fireplace so intense you’ll be able to style the smoke? Is the odor of your roommate’s tuna fish sandwich so robust you’ll be able to style it from throughout the room?

Inform your viewers.

Be descriptive.

Make them style the fishiness.

#5. How Does it Odor?

It wasn’t a basement you walked into — it was a musty, moldy basement.

And also you didn’t merely get pleasure from your Mother’s do-it-yourself lasagna. You inhaled the fragrant scents of sauce, cheese, and basil.

Evoking the sense of odor is probably the best approach to tug readers out of their world and into yours.

So while you sit down to jot down, ask your self if it’s doable to explain how one thing smells. And should you can? Do it.

The Huge Sensory Phrases Record: 583 (and Counting) Descriptive Phrases to Supercharge Your Writing With Sensory Language

When you’ve requested and answered the 5 questions above, your writing will likely be filled with sensory particulars.

In time, you’ll construct up your individual huge record of sensory phrases you’ll be able to reference and sprinkle all through your work (no thesaurus wanted!).

However within the meantime, right here’s my record.

Bookmark them.

Print them.

Use them usually:

Angular Babble
Azure Bang
Billowy Barking
Black Bawled
Bleary Bawling
Bloated Bellow
Blonde Blare
Blue Blaring
Blurred Bleat
Blushing Growth
Branching Booming
Vibrant Bray
Good Buzz
Broad Buzzing
Brown Cackle
Brunette Cackling
Bulbous Chatter
Cumbersome Chattering
Camouflaged Cheer
Chubby Chiming
Round Chirping
Colourful Chuckle
Colorless Clamor
Colossal Clang
Contoured Clanging
Cosmic Clap
Craggy Clapping
Crimson Clicking
Crinkled Clink
Crooked Clinking
Crowded Cooing
Crystalline Coughing
Curved Crackle
Darkish Crackling
Dazzling Crashing
Deep Creak
Dim Croaking
Dingy Crow
Matted Crunch
Distinct Crunching
Drab Crunchy
Dreary Cry
Boring Crying
Dusty Deafening
Elegant Distorted
Enchanting Dripping
Partaking Ear-piercing
Huge Earsplitting
Light Exploding
Fancy Faint
Fats Fizzing
Filthy Gagging
Flashy Gasping
Flat Giggle
Flickering Guffawing
Foggy Grate
Forked Grating
Freckled Growl
Fuzzy Grumble
Gargantuan Grunt
Gaudy Grunting
Gigantic Guffaw
Ginormous Gurgle
Glamorous Gurgling
Gleaming Hanging
Glimpse Hiss
Glistening Hissing
Glitter Honking
Glittering Howl
Globular Hubbub
Gloomy Hum
Shiny Buzzing
Glowing Hush
Gold Jabber
Sleek Jangle
Grey Jangling
Inexperienced Laughing
Grotesque Moaning
Hazy Monotonous
Hole Mooing
Homely Muffled
Large Mumble
Illuminated Mumbling
Immense Murmur
Vague Mutter
Ivory Muttering
Knotty Noisy
Lacy Peeping
Lanky Piercing
Massive Ping
Lavender Pinging
Lean Plopping
Lithe Pop
Little Purring
Lofty Quacking
Lengthy Quiet
Low Rant
Malnourished Rapping
Maroon Rasping
Huge Raucous
Miniature Rave
Misshapen Ringing
Misty Roar
Immobile Roaring
Mottled Rumble
Mountainous Rumbling
Muddy Rustle
Murky Rustling
Slender Scratching
Obtuse Scream
Olive Screaming
Opaque Screech
Orange Screeching
Oval Serene
Pale Shout
Peered Shouting
Petite Shrieking
Pink Shrill
Portly Sigh
Pristine Silent
Prodigious Sing
Purple Singing
Quaint Scorching
Radiant Slam
Rectangular Slamming
Pink Snap
Reddish Snappy
Rippling Loud night breathing
Rotund Snort
Spherical Splashing
Ruby Squawking
Ruddy Squeaky
Rusty Stammer
Sabotaged Stomp
Shadowy Storm
Shallow Stuttering
Shapeless Tearing
Sheer Thudding
Shimmering Thump
Shiny Thumping
Brief Thunder
Silver Thundering
Skinny Ticking
Small Tingling
Smudged Tinkling
Hovering Twitter
Glowing Twittering
Sparkly Wail
Spherical Warbling
Spotless Wheezing
Noticed Whimper
Sq. Whimpering
Steep Whine
Stormy Whining
Straight Whir
Unusual Whisper
Striped Whispering
Sunny Whistle
Swooping Whooping
Tall Yell
Tapering Yelp
Abrasive Acidic
Balmy Appetizing
Biting Bitter
Boiling Bittersweet
Breezy Bland
Bristly Buttery
Bubbly Charred
Bubby Contaminated
Bumpy Creamy
Burning Crispy
Bushy Delectable
Chilled Scrumptious
Chilly Doughy
Clammy Earthy
Coarse Fermented
Chilly Flavorful
Cool Flavorless
Cottony Floury
Crawly Garlicky
Creepy Gingery
Cuddly Gritty
Cushioned Hearty
Damp Juicy
Dank Luscious
Soiled Medicinal
Downy Mellow
Drenched Melted
Dry Nauseating
Elastic Nutritious
Feathery Nutty
Feverish Palatable
Advantageous Peppery
Fleshy Pickled
Fluff Piquant
Fluffy Uncooked
Foamy Refreshing
Fragile Wealthy
Freezing Ripe
Furry Salty/Salted
Glassy Savory
Gluey Delicious
Gooey Stale
Grainy Sugary
Greasy Syrupy
Gritty Tangy
Gushy Tart
Furry Tasteless
Heavy Unripe
Sizzling Vinegary
Humid Yummy
Ice-Chilly Zesty
Ambrosial Acrid
Antiseptic Burnt
Aroma Fishy
Fragrant Recent
Briny Fruity
Citrusy Lemony
Decayed Minty
Decomposed Moldy
Doggy Mouth-watering
Fetid Rotten
Floral Salty
Flowery Bitter
Foul-smelling Spicy
Aromatic Spoiled
Gamy Candy
Gaseous Tantalizing

Are You Able to Unleash the Energy of Sensory Particulars?

It’s time to say goodbye.

Goodbye to lifeless phrases that sit on the web page.

Goodbye to detached readers prepared to maneuver on to one thing, something, else.

You now know why sensory particulars are so efficient. You know the way to sprinkle descriptive phrases all through your content material. And also you now have a large, ever-growing record of sensory phrases to bookmark and are available again to time and again.

Variations of the next quote have been attributed to everybody from Carl W. Buehner to Maya Angelou, however no matter who mentioned it, and the way they mentioned it, it’s true:

“Individuals might neglect what you mentioned, however they’ll always remember the way you made them really feel.”

It’s time to make your readers really feel.

Are you prepared?

Then let’s do that factor.

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