In high spirits or down in the dumps? (The language of moods)


by Kate Woodford

How would you describe your mood day? Are you feeling pretty chilled (= relaxed and not worried about anything)? Perhaps you’re slightly on edge (= anxious about something and not able to relax)? Our moods change all the time, sometimes for no obvious reason. With this post, I aim to provide you with some nice adjectives and phrases for describing the way we feel.

Let’s start with some positive words. The adjectives chirpy and perky describe someone who seems cheerful. They suggest that someone is also feeling quite lively: She was very chirpy when I spoke to her this morning. / You seem very perky today! The adjective bright is also used for someone who seems cheerful and lively: He seemed much brighter at the weekend. We also say that someone is in good/high spirits when they are happy: I thought she was well. She seemed in good spirits.

The adjective mellow describes someone who is feeling very relaxed, sometimes – though not always – because they’ve drunk alcohol: A stroll on the beach had put me in a very mellow mood.

Moving on to more negative words, if you’re feeling gloomy, you’re unhappy and without hope: She seemed a bit gloomy when we met up. Two other adjectives with a similar meaning are low and down: Illness of any sort can leave you feeling low. / He seemed a bit down and I wanted to cheer him up.

An adjective for someone who is quiet and seems a little unhappy or anxious is subdued: I was a bit worried about Dan. He seemed rather subdued.

Two informal phrases that mean unhappy are (a bit) down in the mouth and (a bit) down in the dumps: Was Joe okay? He seemed a bit down in the mouth. / She’d just broken up with her boyfriend and was a bit down in the dumps. Another idiom meaning ‘in an unhappy mood’ is out of sorts: I’ve just been feeling a bit out of sorts today – I don’t know why. (This phrase can also be used to mean ‘slightly ill’.)

Sometimes, we find ourselves in a slightly angry mood in which we are easily annoyed by other people. A good word for this is irritable: I’m always more irritable when I’m tired. Other, slightly informal adjectives with a similar meaning are grumpy, grouchy and cranky: Don’t be so grumpy! / He’s always grouchy in the morning – just ignore him! / She’s just tired and cranky.

That concludes my round-up of mood words. I hope that as you read this, you’re in good spirits!

40 thoughts on “In high spirits or down in the dumps? (The language of moods)

      1. Mansura Umar

        Thank you so much for this session. I have learned new words. I have a concern, please I would like to know how to express my self well, be it writing or speaking. Often when I try to express myself in a way, the words vanish, kindly help me

  1. Maryem Salama

    A good mood is as high as the moon, but still, I am dreaming of a spacecraft that takes me up one day or another.Thank you, Kate.

      1. Tanurima Das

        Thank you ma’am. It really helped me a lot. Please post more lovely lessons.

  2. Youssef Jalabi

    Thank you for this lovely lesson.

    One request please .would you be able to provide each of these lovely lessons a pdf ,this would make it easier to go through it every now and tthen?
    Habve a great day.
    Kind Reagrds

  3. Tatiana Balandina

    Dear Kate, thank you so much for your awesome posts! You really make me feel bright when I read them. I am really in high spirits after reading them. I’m looking forward to your next post.

  4. Denis

    Excellently written!
    Some of the vocabulary refresh my memory, whereas some are new to me.
    At the same time, I’d like to add a couple more of the relevant adjectives I’m fond of using: gleeful, chuffed, & jovial. Indeed, I absolutely love the idiom ‘like a dog with two tails’. 🙂

    Dear Kate, in one of your wonderful posts you mention that we say that a course of action is no soft option, meaning that it is difficult, even though other people may think it is not. With that in mind, would the following sentences be correct, and which one sounds better to you?

    ‘I’ve completed my English course with outstanding results, turning this no soft option into no mean feat of mine.’
    ‘I’ve completed my English course with outstanding results, turning no soft option into no mean feat.’

    I’m so looking forward to your response and would genuinely appreciate it.

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hi Denis! Thanks for your kind words. Actually, We’re more likely to say something like, ‘x is seen/considered as a soft option’, ‘x is not a soft option’ or ‘choose the soft option’. I hope that helps. Best wishes from Cambridge.

  5. Hunar Mehta

    Although I do know some of these words, this blog is a good revision to use them frequently …makes language and talks interesting .!! thank you

      1. Sudhakara Rao Duvvada

        Marvellous explanation.

        It is really a nifty presentation with numerous examples which widened my skills.

        Tons of thanks!

  6. Panda

    Yesss I’m in good spirits after reading your post. It is really helpful for my vocab so thank you for sharing this lesson, Kate!
    Student from Vietnam with love…

  7. Sadanandam Kasarla

    Thanks a lot for providing this learning, these new words and idioms sprucing up my English conversations.

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