With this post, we continue the ‘describing people’ thread, looking at adjectives that we use to describe people’s characters. Today, we focus on a set of near-synonyms for the adjective ‘kind’.
A caring person is kind and always tries to make sure that other people are well and happy: She had a lovely, caring mother. Someone who is generous shows kindness by giving a lot of their money or time to others: It was very generous of her to donate so much money. / He was always very generous with his time.
If you are considerate, you think about other people’s wishes, and not just your own, when you are making decisions: It was very considerate of you to let me know. The adjective compassionate describes someone who cares about others who are suffering and feels sympathy for them: I believe that most people are fundamentally compassionate and hate to inflict pain on animals.
The suffix -hearted appears in three adjectives that describe kind people who show sympathy to others. We may say that someone is kind-hearted, tender-hearted or soft-hearted: My younger son can’t bear to see anyone suffer – he’s so tender-hearted.
Finally for ‘kind’ words, the adjective thoughtful describes a kind person who is always thinking about how they can help or please other people. The adjective sweet is sometimes used in the same way: Rebecca’s so thoughtful. When my mother was ill, she went round with flowers. / It was very sweet of Karl to ask after my father.
Now let’s think about the opposite. The informal adjective mean is sometimes used for ‘unkind’: She can be quite mean to her younger brother. / Don’t be mean, Freddy! In UK English, mean also means ‘not willing to spend money, especially on others.’ The US equivalent is cheap: When it came to buying presents, she could be quite mean. / He was too cheap to buy her a drink.
A person who often says or does unkind things might be described as nasty or unpleasant: He certainly wasn’t a good man. In fact, he was quite nasty. / She was a pretty unpleasant character by all accounts. Even stronger, the adjective cruel suggests that someone enjoys causing pain to others: a cruel dictator / Children can be very cruel to each other. Someone who is ruthless is determined to achieve something and doesn’t care about the pain that it will cause others: He was ruthless in his rise to the top.
Finally, hard-hearted describes a person who is not kind and doesn’t feel sympathy for others: Imagine treating a person like that! How could anyone be so hard-hearted?
The next post in this thread will include words for people who are generally happy and relaxed.