Scorching, furious and delighted! (Extreme adjectives in English, Part 1)

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by Kate Woodford

Are your English adjectives sometimes not strong enough? Perhaps you’re eating something that is so good, the word ‘good’ just isn’t enough. In this case, you might want to describe the food as delicious or even (informal) scrumptious. As you’ll have guessed by now, this post looks at extreme adjectives – that is, adjectives that we use to emphasize a high degree of a particular quality.  Remember that we don’t usually put the adverb very before extreme adjectives. Instead, to add even more emphasis, we might use adverbs such as absolutely, totally and completely.

Let’s start with the weather. If it’s very hot outside, you might say it’s boiling or boiling hot, or it’s scorching or scorching hot:

It’s absolutely boiling out there! 

a scorching hot day

If the opposite is true and it’s very, very cold, you might say it’s freezing or freezing cold:

You’ll need your coat and gloves on – it’s absolutely freezing!

a freezing cold day in January

Staying with the weather, if you get extremely wet in the rain, you might describe yourself as soaked, drenched, or  wet through:

By the time we got home, we were soaked to the skin.

Look at you – you’re drenched!

Get your jacket off – you’re wet through!

Moving on to emotions, someone who is extremely sad might be described as heartbroken: When she left him, he was heartbroken.

Interestingly, there are many words for ‘very angry’, for example furious, livid, enraged, incensed and irate.

He was livid when he found out.

an irate customer.

She was absolutely incensed by his comments.

When someone is extremely pleased about something, you can describe them as delighted or thrilled:

He was delighted at the news.

She was so thrilled to see her grandson.

Instead of extreme adjectives for ‘very pleased’, people often use short phrases instead. For example, they might say someone is over the moon, walking / floating on air, or on cloud nine: I couldn’t believe it when I heard I’d got the job. I was floating on air!

If someone is extremely surprised, you can describe them as amazed, astonished, astounded, staggered or stunned:

I was so astonished at what she’d said, I was speechless.

We couldn’t believe the news. We were absolutely stunned.

Two common extreme adjectives for ‘very scared’ are terrified and petrified: The poor child looked petrified.

Finally, a useful adjective meaning ‘very embarrassed’ is mortified: I was mortified to hear how rude my son had been.

19 thoughts on “Scorching, furious and delighted! (Extreme adjectives in English, Part 1)

  1. Kate Woodford

    Thanks, everyone, for leaving such nice comments! There’ll be another post on extreme adjectives, (Part 2), so keep checking in!

  2. wirunga

    I have a question. There a sentence in the article:

    By the time we got home, we were soaked to the skin.

    Why isn’t there Past Perfect in the second part of the sentence? I mean:

    By the time we got home, we had been soaked to the skin.

    I would be really grateful for your explanation.

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hi! Sorry, I’ve only just spotted your query. Yes, sure – ‘soaked’ here is an adjective so the sentence in question is analogous to something like, ‘By the time they arrived at the hospital, he was dead.’ Does that make sense? I hope so. Best wishes to you, Kate.

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