The Writer’s Handy List Of 111 Negative Adjectives To Describe A Person

Your antagonist is such a jerk! You just know your readers will classify this person as one of the worst fictional people ever created.

You’re so proud. 

If you need to describe this person, though, you’re not sure of the best words to use.

Where’s a list of negative adjectives when you need one? 

Look through the generous list below for just the right words.

You’ll know them when you hear them. 

111 Negative Adjectives to Describe a Person 

The following list — complete with brief descriptions — is our answer to the question, “What are some negative character traits?” You’ll find plenty of synonyms in each group, but each word has its own nuances. 

Listen to the words as you say them aloud to hear which ones fit your character best. 

Negative Adjectives for Self-Centered People

1. Aloof — distant or detached from others; keeping others at a distance

2. Apathetic — lacking any concern or feeling for others; indifferent or insensitive

3. Arrogant — believing oneself to be superior to others and acting like it 

4. Boastful — tending to brag about one’s accomplishments, possessions, or abilities

5. Big-headed — having an inflated sense of one’s importance or intelligence

6. Callous — not affected by the suffering of others

7. Conceited — having an excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s abilities

8. Condescending — talking down to those they consider less intelligent

9. Detached — not interested in another’s problems or welfare; free of concern

10. Dismissive — quick to disregard others or brush them off as unworthy of attention

woman taking a selfie on a mirror negative adjectives

11. Egocentric — self-centered or self-absorbed; focused on serving the ego

12. Envious — coveting the possessions, status, or accomplishments of others

13. Greedy — amassing and hoarding possessions (or money, food, etc.) to oneself

14. Hedonistic — seeking one’s own pleasure; sensually self-indulgent

15. Narcissistic — self-centered to the point that others are tools for self-gratification

16. Patronizing — talking down to those they consider inferior in some way

17. Pharisaical — hypocritical; quick to impose burdens they’re not willing to carry

18. Petulant — childishly sulky or peevish; insolent or rude

19. Pompous — acting with arrogance or inflated self-importance 

20. Supercilious — acting superior or above your company; dismissive or aloof

21. Vain — having a high opinion of one’s appearance or the impression one is making

22. Vindictive — driven to punish those who’ve crossed them in some way

Negative Adjectives for Negative People

1. Abrasive — lacking any softness, tenderness, or tact in their expression

2. Bad-tempered — short-tempered or quick to anger

3. Bigoted — prejudiced against and hostile towards those of a different race, religion, or sexual orientation

4. Contemptuous — feeling and showing contempt or hatred toward others

5. Cynical — expecting the worst from a person or from a situation

6. Dogmatic — inflexible in their beliefs; laying down principles as indisputably true

7. Fussy — fastidious or hard to please; over-particular; easily upset

8. Grumpy — quick to anger or irritation; irritable; lacking in humor

9. Hypercritical — quick to criticize others or to complain

10. Impatient — lacking in patience; easily irritated

11. Inflexible — fixed in one’s beliefs and unwilling to consider other viewpoints

man being bullied by 2 men negative adjectives

12. Intolerant — refusing to tolerate those of a different race, religion, or sexual orientation

13. Jealous — feeling threatened when a friend or S.O. is friendly toward another

14. Judgmental — quick to judge others, typically due to ignorance and/or hubris

15. Morose — gloomy or sullen; ill-humored; pessimistic

16. Nihilistic — believing that life, existence, and moral principles are meaningless

17. Neurotic — mentally disturbed or unbalanced; fixated on negative thoughts

18. Pessimistic — tending to believe or expect the worst

19. Resentful — refusing to forgive

20. Rude — lacking in manners or concern for the feelings of others; disrespectful

21. Narrow-minded — refusing to listen to or tolerate contrary viewpoints or new ideas

22. Petty — small-minded or quick to take offense; spiteful or grudging

23. Pig-headed — stubborn to the point of self-harm or self-destruction

24. Sullen — sulky, gloomy, or bad-tempered

25. Touchy — quick to anger or easily irritated; irritable

26. Unforgiving — refusing to pardon an offense or injury; holding a grudge


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Negative Adjectives for People You Can’t Count On

1. Careless — clumsy or lacking in awareness of the effect of your behavior on others

2. Chaotic — lacking order or organization; jumbled; messy

3. Disorganized — visibly lacking in organization or any semblance of order

4. Fickle — tending to change one’s mind without warning

5. Flaky — tending to forget one’s obligations; failing to show up

6. Foolish — lacking in wisdom or acting without wisdom

7. Idle— spending time unproductively

8. Inconsiderate — lacking in or acting without consideration for others

9. Indecisive — unable to make a decision

10. Indolent — lazy or shiftless; lacking in aspirations, direction, or drive

11. Irresponsible — lacking in or abdicating responsibility for one’s own actions or decisions

12. Lazy — preferring idleness or avoiding work

13. Lackadaisical — lacking enthusiasm or determination; apathetic or listless

14. Thoughtless — lacking in or acting without thought for others

15. Unpredictable — acting in a way no one can predict; defying expectations

16. Unreliable — lacking in reliability; rewarding trust with disappointment

17. Vacillating — wavering between different opinions or decisions; irresolute

18. Vacuous — devoid of intelligence or thought; mindless; inscrutable

19. Vague — unclear in one’s thinking or expression; irresolute or ambiguous

20. Weak-willed — lacking a strong will; easily dominated by another’s will

Negative Adjectives for People You Can’t Trust

1. Artificial — deceptive in appearance; showing a false front

2. Conniving — plotting or scheming to gain a benefit at another’s expense

3. Deceitful — acting with intent to deceive or trick another

4. Dishonest — lacking in or acting without honesty

5. Fawning — flattering or obsequious toward someone to gain approval or favor

6. Indiscreet — too ready to reveal things that should remain secret or private (TMI)

7. Machiavellian — seeking one’s own benefit at the expense of others; ruthless

8. Malicious — acting with malice or extreme ill will; malignant

man looking at woman's phone negative adjectives

9. Philandering — cheating or disposed to cheat on a spouse/partner with another

10. Shifty — scheming or untrustworthy; given to deception or betrayal

11. Scheming — given to making secret and/or underhanded plans; devious

12. Secretive — keeping information to oneself, even when others have a right to it

13. Sneaky — acting to avoid detection, often when involved in wrongdoing

14. Underhanded — dishonest or devious; secretive and marked by deception

15. Untrustworthy — unreliable or dishonest; not to be trusted

Negative Adjectives for Bullies

1. Aggressive — ready or likely to confront or to attack; openly antagonistic

2. Bossy — autocratic or given to ordering people around; domineering

3. Confrontational — quick to confront others in opposition; argumentative 

4. Cowardly — lacking in or acting without courage or honor

5. Cruel — willfully causing pain and suffering to others; without mercy

6. Domineering — expecting full and unconditional obedience from others

7. Belligerent — ready to do battle; hostile or aggressive toward others

8. Hostile — unfriendly and antagonistic; ready or likely to confront or attack

9. Irascible — hot-tempered or easily provoked to anger; volatile

10. Malevolent — extreme ill will; having or showing a desire to harm someone

11. Manipulative — calculating or controlling toward another to get a desired result

12. Possessive — treating another person as one’s possession or entitlement

13. Predatory — preying on others for one’s own gratification 

14. Sadistic — relishing or deriving pleasure from another’s pain or suffering

15. Violent — using or given to using physical force to harm or kill another

Miscellaneous Negative Adjectives:

1. Antisocial — averse to or avoiding the company of others 

2. Clingy — needing constant reassurance or expressions of affection

3. Facetious — jesting in a way that’s (often) inappropriate or provocative

4. Finicky — too picky with regard to food or drink

5. Gullible — trusting too easily or without good reason

6. Ignorant — lacking knowledge needed to make an informed decision

7. Meddlesome — having a tendency to insert oneself into another’s business

coworkers gossiping about woman negative adjectives

8. Melodramatic — overly dramatic; using exaggerated gestures or language

9. Moody — exhibiting drastic mood fluctuations or general low-spiritedness

10. Naïve — lacking experience or worldly wisdom; gullible

11. Obnoxious — extremely unpleasant; odious or disgusting

12. Ostentatious — showy for the sake of being noticed and admired

13. Vulgar — using sexually suggestive language or profanity

Negative Adjective Examples in Sentences 

Here are some examples using negative adjectives from the list: 

  • She had once mistaken his quiet demeanor for thoughtfulness. Now, she knew him to be dismissive, aloof, and dogmatic
  • We hadn’t been talking for longer than five minutes before I decided he was the most ignorant and narrow-minded prat I’ve ever met. 
  • “She can be so petulant and moody when she doesn’t get her way. But I still prefer her to my sadistic ex.”
  • He’d sent her vulgar jokes by text message every day for a week before she called him out for his obnoxious sense of humor. 
  • Ever since he lost his job, he’s been so lackadaisical and morose. I can’t get him out the door for anything. 

Have you found the negative adjectives for your book character?

Now that you’ve looked through the list of negative adjectives, which ones stood out as particularly fitting for your antagonist? Or which ones describe a minor character who, in their own small but significant way, makes your protagonist’s life harder. 

Oh, the possibilities! Whether this character is shaping up to be a devious but ultimately likable rogue or a fake friend who nearly costs your hero everything, they deserve carefully-chosen adjectives. 

Give them our best.

If you need to describe this person, though, you’re not sure of the best words to use. Where’s a list of negative adjectives when you need one? That’s where we come in. Look through the generous list below for just the right words. You’ll know them when you hear them.

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