Today’s post is the latest in a thread dedicated to describing people’s personalities. We’ve previously looked at adjectives and phrases for people who are relaxed and happy (Part 3), kind and mean (Part 2), and hard-working and lazy (Part 1). Today we focus on words and phrases meaning ‘sociable’ and ‘shy’.
Starting with ‘sociable’, a commonly used adjective for someone who is friendly and enjoys being with other people is outgoing: Tom is much more outgoing than her last boyfriend. A synonym of ‘outgoing’ is gregarious: Sara was always very gregarious, with a wide circle of friends.
A noun for a person who is confident in social situations and enjoys them is extrovert. (The opposite is introvert): One of my brothers is a real extrovert and the other is quite shy. Both words are also used as adjectives: extrovert / introvert personalities
An extrovert who loves social occasions is sometimes called, informally, a party animal: He was a real party animal when we were at college – he was out every night.
And what about near-synonyms for ‘shy’? Someone who is slightly embarrassed or nervous when speaking to new people may be described as awkward: Anna can be slightly awkward in company.
A slightly formal synonym for ‘shy’ is diffident: Unlike her sister, she was quiet and diffident.
A person, especially a child, who is shy and nervous around other people may be described as timid: I remember her as a rather timid child.
A rather negative adjective for a quiet, shy person who doesn’t attract attention is mousy: Parker plays the part of her mousy housemate.
The slightly formal adjective retiring, (usually heard in the phrase ‘shy and retiring’) describes someone who prefers not to socialize because they are shy: The lifestyle wouldn’t have suited him. He wasn’t the shy and retiring type.
In UK English, people who prefer not to mix with others may be said to keep themselves to themselves: They were quite private people. They kept themselves to themselves.
A loner is someone who is usually alone and has few friends: People who knew him at school described him as a loner. More extreme, a recluse lives alone and avoids contact with other people generally: The actress became a recluse in later life. There is also the adjective reclusive: Reclusive by nature, he lived alone for the last twenty years of his life.
Next month, in the last of these ‘Describing character’ posts, we’ll look at words for a variety of negative characteristics, ranging from the tendency to criticize others, to the belief that you are better than other people.