It’s very entertaining. (Words for describing movies and books)

by Kate Woodford

Tom Merton/OJO Images/Getty
Tom Merton/OJO Images/Getty

Most of us like to discuss movies and shows that we have seen and books that we have read. This is the first of two posts that will provide you with a range of adjectives and phrases for describing what you have seen and read in a way that is precise and varied.

We often want to say that we found a movie or a book enjoyable. Two very useful ‘-able’ adjectives here are readable and watchable. Books that are readable are easy and enjoyable to read (sometimes despite being about subjects that might seem difficult or boring): It’s a very readable account of the history of this great city.

Movies and shows that are watchable give you pleasure when you watch them: It’s probably not his best movie but it’s very watchable. An adjective with a similar meaning is entertaining: It’s not a great novel but it’s fairly entertaining.

Meanwhile, a book that is very enjoyable may be described as a good read: I’d really recommend his latest novel – it’s a good read.

A number of adjectives describe movies and books that are very interesting. Absorbing is used for a movie or book that is so interesting, it completely holds your attention: I really liked her last novel – I found it very absorbing.

Engrossing means the same, but is stronger: The movie was completely engrossing from start to finish.

A movie or book that is intriguing, meanwhile, is very interesting in a way that is unusual or mysterious: I found the storyline so intriguing – I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen next.

Other adjectives and phrases describe books and movies that are very exciting: Gripping is one such adjective and riveting another:

This is a series with great characters and a gripping storyline.

You’ll love the novel – it’s riveting stuff.

Compulsive is used to describe movies and books that are so exciting, you cannot stop watching or reading them. The adjective is often used in the phrases (for movies, shows, etc) compulsive viewing and (for books) compulsive reading:

His latest book is compulsive reading.

I find hospital documentaries like these compulsive viewing.

The adjective compelling means the same: I found the whole series very compelling.

Meanwhile, a book that is (informal) unputdownable is so exciting, you cannot stop reading it (you cannot ‘put it down’): His last novel was totally unputdownable. I read it over two days.

We hope that you read something unputdownable or watch something riveting this week!

29 thoughts on “It’s very entertaining. (Words for describing movies and books)

  1. Pingback: It’s very entertaining. (Words for describing movies and books) – Cambridge Dictionary About words blog (Sep 21, 2016) | Editorial Words

  2. Barenya

    Here if I may add two more examples:

    1. page-turner: A book that is very exciting.
    2. cliffhanger: A situation in a story or movie that is very exciting because you cannot guess what will happen next.

  3. Walter Brito

    I’m loving that much Cambridge Dictionary Online blog. Congratulation

    ________________________________ De: About Words – Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog Enviado: quarta-feira, 21 de setembro de 2016 08:01:54 Para: waltermbrito@hotmail.com Assunto: [New post] It’s very entertaining. (Words for describing movies and books)

    Kate Woodford posted: “by Kate Woodford Most of us like to discuss movies and shows that we have seen and books that we have read. This is the first of two posts that will provide you with a range of adjectives and phrases for describing what you have seen and read in a “

  4. as a TEFL instructor, I would highly recommend this article for students taking the FCE exam/course. Good stuff, albeit not exhaustive. Two thumbs up – as Erbert & Roeper might’ve put it! 🙂

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hi! Thanks for your suggestions. These would be very emphatic adjectives to use in this context, but possible, though ‘ineffable’ tends to combine with words such as beauty/mystery, etc, ie qualities that are hard or impossible to describe in words. ‘Bewitching’ I would tend to use to describe a person or their eyes etc. They’re both great adjectives though!

  5. Sabir

    I have a question regarding a different topic.
    I like to chat ___ my friends. (to/with)
    I like to have a chat ___ my friends. (to/with)
    Thank you.

      1. Fredi Contreras

        Thanks so guys much guys .. Uuhuu

        On Oct 10, 2016 5:18 AM, “About Words – Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog” wrote:

        > Fredi. commented: “Hell..o very nice comment” >

  6. Pingback: It’s very entertaining. (Words for describing movies and books) — About Words – Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog | sandrousha

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