This week I’m looking at the language we use to describe how people express (or don’t express!) emotions. It’s an interesting area with a range of words and phrases so I’ll present the information in two parts, Part 1 and Part 2.
We’ll start with some nice adjectives. A person who is demonstrative freely shows love and affection for other people, for example by hugging them: We weren’t a very physically demonstrative family.
Expressive means ‘showing what someone feels or thinks’ and applies, for example, to faces, eyes and hands: She has a wonderfully expressive face.
Conversely, a face or voice that is expressionless shows no emotions: He sat hunched and expressionless during the five-minute hearing. / She has a rather flat, expressionless voice.
If someone’s face is impassive, they are showing no emotion and no response to what is happening at the time: He looked pale and impassive, sitting next to his lawyer.
The adjective blank is also used for a face that shows no emotion, with the additional meaning of ‘showing no interest or understanding’: I’ll always remember the child’s blank stare.
Meanwhile, someone who is stolid never shows emotion or excitement, in a way that is rather boring: Her husband was a rather stolid man.
Let’s turn now to verbs in this area. If you vent a negative emotion, such as anger or frustration, you show it, sometimes in a slightly uncontrolled way: A lot of supporters used the forum to vent their frustration. This verb is also used intransitively: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to rant – I’m just venting. The phrase give vent to is also used with the same meaning: Fed up with not being listened to, they gave vent to their anger.
Meanwhile, if you radiate an emotion, especially a positive one, or that emotion radiates from you, you show it very clearly: Life is clearly suiting her – she radiates contentment. / She smiled, happiness radiating from her.
If you betray a feeling, your face shows that feeling, even though you try not to let it: His eyes betrayed his relief. / If she felt at all nervous, her face did not betray it.
To conceal a feeling is to hide it from others: She smiled in an attempt to conceal her irritation. If you suppress an emotion, you prevent yourself from feeling or showing it: I tried to suppress my annoyance. / She could no longer suppress her excitement.
I hope you’ve learnt some new words or senses in this ‘expressing emotion’ post. In Part 2, I’ll take a look at idioms and phrasal verbs in this area.