Useful Expressions: Describing People (Part 1)

Positive traits and characteristics

  1. (to be) as brave as a lion
    Meaning: someone who is very brave or courageous
    Example: Tom’s as brave as a lion, he didn’t even hesitate to confront the thief who tried to steal my wallet.
  2. (to be) as cool as a cucumber
    Meaning: someone who acts very calm in a difficult or serious situation.
    Example: Mark is always as cool as a cucumber, even when he is under a lot of pressure.
  3. (to be) down to earth
    Meaning: someone who is very sensible, realistic, practical, thinks logically and rationally. Maybe the opposite of someone who ‘has their head in the clouds’.
    Example: Karen’s really sensible and realistic, she’s really down to earth.
    He is a really down to earth kind of guy.
    She’s got a really down to earth personality.
  4. (to be) easy-going
    Meaning: similar to laid back. Someone who is not easily worried, upset or annoyed.
    Example: Ryan’s a very easy-going guy. Nothing seems to bother him too much.
  5. (to be) a go-getter
    Meaning: someone who is proactive, determined and works hard to achieve what they want.
    Example: Christine is a real go-getter, she’ll do whatever it takes to work her way to the top of her company.
  6. (to be) good company
    Meaning: someone who is fun or pleasant to be around and spend time with.
    Example: Jane’s really good company. I always have a great time when we hang out together.
  7. (to be) a good laugh
    Meaning: someone who is funny and entertaining to be around.
    Example: My best friend Amanda is a real good laugh. She’s always got a lot of funny stories to tell when we catch up.
  8. (to be) a knight in shining armour
    Meaning: someone who helps or saves you when you have a problem
    Example: Alex is a real knight in shining armour, he helped me to move house when no one else could.
  9. (to be) laid-back
    Meaning: someone who behaves in a very relaxed way, nothing seems to bother them.
    Example: I guess I would describe myself as being pretty laid back. I don’t get upset or
    worried very easily.
  10. (to have) nerves of steel
    Meaning: someone is able to stay calm in a difficult or dangerous situation, or when under a lot of pressure
    Example: John’s got nerves of steel. He looked so calm when the robber pointed a gun at his face
  11. (to be) open-minded
    Meaning: someone who is willing to listen to, or is accepting of, other people’s ideas and
    opinions, even if they are different to their own beliefs.
    Example: One of the reasons that I really respect Greg is because he is so open-minded.
  12. (to be) as sweet as honey | sugar
    Meaning: someone who acts in a very sweet, nice or gentle manner.
    Example: Mary is one of the nicest people I know, she’s as sweet as sugar.
  13. (to be) up-and-coming
    Meaning: someone or something that is advancing in its field and is likely to be a success
    Example: John is an up-and-coming star. He’s been staring in a lot of films lately and is gaining a lot of popularity amongst movie critics.
    Mike’s café is said to be the next up-and-coming chain of coffee stores around the country
  14. (to have) vim and vigour
    Meaning: someone who has a lot of energy and enthusiasm
    Example: Tom is full of vim and vigour. He’s always so excited and enthusiastic about
    everything!
  15. (to be) young at heart
    Meaning: someone who is getting older, but still feels and acts young
    Example: Even though Bob is in his 60’s, he’s still young at heart. He’s always wanting to play football with his grandkids.

Negative traits and characteristics

  1. (to be) a bad egg
    Meaning: someone who is dishonest or behaves badly
    Example: Little Johnny is a real bad egg. He’s always misbehaving at school and causing
    problems with other students.
  2. (to be) big-headed
    Meaning: someone who thinks they are very important, or better than others
    Example: I don’t want to sound big-headed, but I was definitely the smartest kid in school.
  3. (to be) a big mouth
    Meaning: someone who isn’t able to keep a secret.
    Example: Jenny is such a big mouth! She wasn’t supposed to tell you about the surprise party that I had planned for you.
  4. (to be) a busybody
    Meaning: someone who is interested in other people’s personal business, particularly things that do not involve them.
    Example: My mum is such a busybody, always trying to listen in to my private conversations with my friends, trying to find out what we are talking about.
  5. (to be) a cold fish
    Meaning: someone who shows little or no emotion, and may be very unsympathetic.
    Example: John didn’t show any sympathy for Max when his girlfriend broke up with him. He can be a real cold fish sometimes.
  6. (to be) a chatterbox
    Meaning: a person who talks a lot
    Example: James is such a chatterbox, sometimes he just never shuts up!
  7. (to be) as cunning as a fox
    Meaning: someone is very cunning, deceitful or maybe untrustworthy. Someone who plans
    things in order to get what they want.
    Example: I really don’t trust Tony, he’s always trying to trick people. He’s as cunning as a fox.
  8. (to be) a fair-weather friend
    Meaning: someone who is only your friend when things are going well for you, but not when you really need help.
    Example: Kyle’s only a fair-weather friend. Last month when I desperately needed help, he wouldn’t even reply to my messages.
  9. (to be) full of hot air
    Meaning: someone who talks a lot but doesn’t say anything worthwhile, or talks about things they don’t really know about, or exaggerates the truth
    Example: Don’t listen to Matt, he’s full of hot air. You can’t trust a word that he says.
  10. (to be) full of yourself
    Meaning: Someone who is overconfident, and thinks they are very special or important
    (similar to big-headed)
    Example: Carl is so full of himself these days. He just never shuts about his latest achievements.
  11. (to be) as greedy as a pig
    Meaning: someone is very greedy and has a desire for things, particularly for food.
    Example: Shannon ate that whole chocolate cake herself and didn’t save any for anyone else.
    She’s as greedy as a pig sometimes!
  12. (to be) narrow-minded
    Meaning: someone who is unwilling to accept or listen to other people’s ideas or opinions. (opposite of open-minded)
    Example: I really can’t stand narrow-minded people. It’s one of the qualities that I really hate in other people.
  13. (to be) a nosy parker
    Meaning: similar to a busybody. Someone who asks a lot of questions trying to find out
    information about someone’s personal life.
    Example: My next door neighbour is such a nosy parker, always asking me questions trying to find out about my personal life.
  14. (to be) a pain in the neck
    Meaning: someone or something that is highly annoying
    Example: Jerry is an absolute pain in the neck. He’s always interfering with my work, I can’t get nothing done when he’s around.
    TV commercials these days are a real pain in the neck, there’s more commercials
    than TV shows!
  15. (to be) pig-headed
    Meaning: someone who is extremely stubborn, and unwilling to change their opinions, even if they know they are wrong
    Example: Chris is so pig-headed. He still thinks women should be housewives only.
  16. (to be) set in his | her ways
    Meaning: someone who doesn’t like changing their habits.
    Example: My grandfather is quite old now and set in his ways. It’s really difficult to try to
    change his view on things.
  17. (to have) a short fuse
    Meaning: someone who gets angry easily, or loses their temper quickly.
    Example: When I was young I had to be careful around my father, he had a really short fuse. If I did something wrong, he would get really mad.
  18. (to be) a slave driver
    Meaning: someone who makes their employees or other people work really hard.
    Example: My boss is a real slave driver, he’s always making us stay back at work late.
  19. (to be) as slippery as an eel
    Meaning: someone who is cunning, deceitful or untrustworthy, and possibly difficult to catch(e.g. a criminal)
    Example: I really don’t trust that guy, he’s as slippery as an eel.
    The police haven’t been able to catch the criminal yet, he seems to be as slippery as an
    eel.
  20. (to be) a smart arse
    Meaning: someone who tries to be funny or clever but is actually just annoying and/or rude
    Example: Matthew’s a real smart arse these days. Always talking rudely to his teachers, trying to make others laugh.
  21. (to be) as stubborn as a mule
    Meaning: to describe someone is very stubborn, or has a strong determination to not change
    their attitude towards something.
    Example: Even though he knows smoking is really bad for his health, he won’t stop. He’s as stubborn as a mule sometimes
  22. (to be) a wet blanket
    Meaning: a person who says or does something that stops others from having fun or enjoying themselves.
    Example: Kate’s always ruining my fun by being so negative all the time, she can be such a wet blanket sometimes.
  23. (to be) a wolf in sheep’s clothing
    Meaning: someone that appears or acts like a good person but is actually bad.
    Example: I think the new president is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It appears like he has good
    intentions, but I think he doesn’t care about what the people want.
  24. (to have) a yellow streak
    Meaning: someone who has a tendency to act cowardly or not be very brave
    Example: Shauna has a bit of a yellow streak, she always scared of everything!
  25. (to be) yellow-bellied
    Meaning: to be cowardly (similar to a yellow streak)
    Example: He’s such a yellow-bellied fool. Always running away from any little problem in life.
  26. (to be) a yes-man
    Meaning: someone who says ‘yes’ to everything or agrees with everything people say, even when they don’t really agree, but usually just to please people.
    Example: Jack will agree with anything you say, he’s a bit of a yes-man.

Useful Expressions: Describing People (Part 2)

Useful Expressions: Describing People (Part 3)

Useful Expressions: Describing People (Part 4)