Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Smugness

· Lifting one’s chin
· Direct, probing eye contact
· A sigh that conveys annoyance (huff)
· Waving a hand in dismissal
· Perfect posture–shoulders back, exposed neck
· A determined walk, strut or swagger
· Talking over people, controlling conversations
· Lavishing praise on “golden ones” (children, friends in favor, people in power)
· An arrogant laugh
· Tossing one’s hair back, a shake of the head
· Settling back in a chair with exaggerated casualness
· Creating movements that direct attention to oneself (waving a cigar, flashing an expensive watch)
· Fidgeting with jewelry in order to draw attention to it
· Clapping someone on the back, overplaying closeness or friendship…

Win your readers’ hearts by tailoring your character’s emotional responses so they’re compelling, credible, and realistic.

If you struggle with writing emotions like so many writers do, you’ll be happy to know that this sample has been expanded into book form. The full list of physical, internal, and mental cues for this and 74 other emotions can be found in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. For more information on this bestselling book and where it can be found, please visit our bookstore.

And the news gets better: we’ve added 15 entries to this collection, including grief, lust, and self-loathing. To access these, simply visit our online library at One Stop For Writers. There, you’ll find all 90 entries from our popular Emotion Thesaurus, which have been updated and enhanced to provide even greater value. Users also enjoy the flexibility of cross-referenced material for easy searchability across all of our completed thesaurus collections. Interested in viewing a sample? Register for free at One Stop, and see what this innovative online library can do for your storytelling.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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3 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Smugness

  1. Sherry says:

    Interesting post–gives me some ideas.

    Can you add some writing examples, too? That would be helpful.

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

  2. Angela says:

    Glad that you’re finding it helpful–thanks for posting to let us know!

  3. AES says:

    The Emotion Thesaurus entries are SO helpful!

    I do quite a bit of theatre, and I’ve always struggled with finding “business” that suits my character and what she’s thinking and feeling– these are a great source for ideas on how to make my character move and, by doing so, make her more real.

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