Laid-back, likeable and jovial : talking about people you like and admire (1)

two older men laughing together in a park
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by Liz Walter

After three posts on criticizing people’s character flaws, it’s definitely time to balance that with some vocabulary for praising those we admire!

Someone who is easy to like is likeable. If they show that they understand the feelings of other people, they have empathy and are empathetic. If you like someone because they have characteristics you particularly admire, you might say that they are a man/woman after your own heart:

You’ll get on with Sue’s husband. He’s a likeable chap.

She’s great at dealing with these young people because she’s really empathetic.

‘Tom refuses to put the heating on unless it’s actually freezing.’ ‘Ah, a man after my own heart!’

You might describe someone with a nice, relaxed personality as laid-back or easy-going, and if someone is always pleasant and kind, you might say he/she doesn’t have a [mean, jealous etc.] bone in his/her body:

Luckily my new boss is pretty easy-going.

Larry wouldn’t upset anyone deliberately. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.

An emphatic way to describe someone who is very ordinary but also very good and honest is (the) salt of the earth, while someone who is big-hearted or has a heart of gold is very kind. If someone is supportive to you at a difficult time, you might say that they are a tower/pillar of strength. (For some other words connected with kindness see my colleague Kate’s post on describing character: https://dictionaryblog.cambridge.org/2020/09/09/kind-hearted-or-ruthless-describing-character-part-2/)

His parents are salt of the earth types – always helping people in their community.

She was a big-hearted woman who did everything for her family.

Rose was a tower of strength when my wife was ill.

A hospitable person likes having guests and treats them well, while someone who is approachable is easy to talk to and doesn’t make you feel nervous. Someone who is tactful takes care not to do or say things that upset people:

We found the local people very hospitable.

Although she’s in a very senior position, her staff still find her approachable.

She was really tactful in the way she helped me solve my problems with my brother.

If we describe someone as a ray of sunshine or simply as sunny, we mean that they have a very happy nature, while someone who is jolly or jovial is good-humoured and likes to laugh or make jokes:

Tia is such a happy child – a little ray of sunshine.

His uncle was a jovial fellow who liked to chat to us.

I hope you found these words and phrases useful. My next post will focus on some other praiseworthy characteristics such as honesty, bravery and intelligence.

22 thoughts on “Laid-back, likeable and jovial : talking about people you like and admire (1)

  1. Yeri

    Thank you Liz for sharing some adjective to describe positive people’s traits. This semester this topic is covered.in.my class curriculum.

  2. Jose Ferreira Filho

    Thank you so much for your valuable help! As someone who doesn’t have the English language as my mother tongue, these tips are very useful!

  3. Judy

    I’m looking for a word that discribes someone as being hateful, unpleasant, evil,
    Rude, unrespecfu, unsociable

    1. Denis

      Hi Judy,
      Firs of all, ‘disrespectful’, not ‘unrespecful’. Now let me come to your assistance…
      You can describe a hateful, unpleasant person as disagreeable, odious, or a nasty piece of work. An evil individual may be described as wicked or terrible. Some synonyms for rude and disrespectful are impertinent, ill-mannered, churlish, & insolent. And an unsociable person may be said to be reserved, solitary, or reclusive.
      I also suggest you look through these posts:
      https://dictionaryblog.cambridge.org/2022/03/02/shes-a-piece-of-work-talking-about-people-you-dont-like-1/
      https://dictionaryblog.cambridge.org/2022/04/06/lily-livered-or-hard-as-nails-talking-about-people-you-dont-like-2/
      https://dictionaryblog.cambridge.org/2022/04/20/prickly-abrasive-and-churlish-talking-about-people-you-dont-like-3/

      Best wishes

  4. gina vanessa hernandez c

    Learnt different expression hadn’t heard before. I’ll use them in my class

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