Bouncy and boisterous (Language relating to energy, Part 1)

three boys leaping in the air and shouting as they play in a park
Nick David/Stone/GettyImages

by Kate Woodford

Some of you reading this post will have enjoyed a break from your work or studies over the summer months. You might (I hope!) be feeling refreshed and ready to throw yourself into your work (=start working with energy and enthusiasm). With this in mind, I thought I’d take a look at words and phrases that relate to energy – and a lack of it! Part 1 will look at adjectives in this area and Part 2 will focus on nouns and phrases.

Let’s start with some nice near-synonyms for ‘lively’. A person who has a lot of energy may be described as energetic:

He’s tremendously energetic and hard-working.

The adjective vigorous also means ‘having great energy’ and can be used for people (especially when describing them in particular roles) or for movements:

She was, to the end, a vigorous campaigner for freedom of speech.

I try to do twenty minutes of vigorous exercise, three times a week.

The adjectives bouncy (like a ball) and effervescent (like a drink with bubbles in it) describe someone who is both energetic and happy:

Her bouncy personality and big laugh endeared her to the nation.

He’s a confident young man with a great smile and an effervescent personality.

Other ‘lively’ adjectives have different additional meanings. For example, boisterous often describes groups of people who are lively, noisy and difficult to control:

The rain didn’t seem to bother the boisterous crowd who had gathered to hear her speak.

I’d just taught a rather boisterous class of teenagers.

The adjective sprightly, meaning ‘energetic and healthy’ is often applied to older people:

A sprightly 84-year-old, Jean is a regular at these meetings.

The words energized and rejuvenated describe someone who is feeling more energetic and positive than they were before, for example after a break from work:

I’ve come back from the course feeling energized and ready to work.

A good holiday should leave you feeling rejuvenated and able to take on life’s challenges.

If someone is tireless or (formal) indefatigable, they continue to be energetic and motivated over a long period, sometimes despite difficulties:

He remained a tireless promoter of the game well into his eighties.

She was also an indefatigable campaigner against cruelty to animals.

I’ll finish this post with a few adjectives that mean the opposite. If you feel lethargic or listless, you have little energy or interest in anything:

The medication had left her feeling lethargic and depressed.

Ever since she had flu she’s been quite listless.

A (UK) lacklustre (US) lackluster performance or display lacks energy and excitement:

The fans, fed up with their team’s lacklustre performance, started booing.

Finally, someone who is burnt-out is exhausted with no energy, usually because they have been working too hard:

By the time we’d recorded the fourth album, I was burnt-out.

If you found this post interesting, do look out for the next one in which I look at nouns and phrases relating to energy.

6 thoughts on “Bouncy and boisterous (Language relating to energy, Part 1)

  1. Oh, yes.

    What an energetic selection!

    It took me a long time to realise that “indefatigable” was connected to FATIGUE and the lack of it – and the letters seemed to tumble around.

    [mostly the G and the T].

    Boisterous can also be applied to an individual – and how you found/find your “boister”.

    Probably a lot of people who have had COVID-19 and the long COVID feel listless.

    And “tireless” became a word worm.

    “Vital” is a good synonym for lively.

  2. Jasneet

    Thank you for such Wonderfull vocabularies, before few minutes I’m feeling very lethargic and listless but after ready you article , I received a very positive energy and felt rejuvenated and energized

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