Shades of Meaning in Adjectives

As an advanced English learner, you should try to use precise words instead of vague, boring terms like interesting, and happy.

One way to be more precise if by using adjectives with the appropriate level of intensity.

So if you’re extremely angry, don’t use the word angry—-use enraged or furious instead.

Furious and enraged are similar to angry, but stronger. These subtle differences between similar words are called shades of meaning.

Here are 21 charts showing the shades of meaning between similar adjectives. Note that I’ve included several nouns as well (a genius in chart #18, for example).

Also see Shades of Meaning in Verbs.


Also see Shades of Meaning in Verbs.

Categorized as Synonyms

By Bradford Jones

Hi, I'm Brad. I've spent the last seven years teaching English and creating websites for English learners and teachers. I recently moved from Costa Rica to Orlando, Florida, where I teach intensive English classes at a state college. If you'd like to contact me, I can be reached via email at