Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Defeat

When it comes to emotion, sometimes we need a brainstorming nudge. After all, each character will express their feelings differently depending on their personality, emotional range, and comfort zone. We hope this short, sample list of expressions will help you better imagine how your character might show this emotion!

If you need to go deeper, we have detailed lists of body language, visceral sensations, dialogue cues, and mental responses for 130 emotions in the 2019 expanded second edition of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.


· A lack of energy
· Holding the head in the hands
· Blank eyes that are devoid of hope
· Short, clipped answers: “Fine.” “No.” “Who cares.”
· An emotionless tone
· Crying, often accompanied by silence
· Not responding to others’ attempts at encouragement
· A thickness in the throat
· A voice that cracks
· A slow shake of the head
· Disconnecting from others
· Not responding to aggression or verbal attacks
· Losing all enjoyment in everyday things
· An unkempt appearance
· Looking worn, appearing older as a result of the current situation…

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

If you struggle with writing emotions, you aren’t alone. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression has helped writers all over the globe, and it can help you. To find out more about this bestselling book, please visit our bookstore.

Prefer the flexibility of instant online access and greater searchability?

The Emotion Thesaurus is also at our sister site, One Stop for Writers. Visit the Emotion Thesaurus Page to view our complete list of entries.

TIP: While you’re there, check out our hyper-intelligent Character Builder that helps you create deep, memorable characters in half the time!



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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7 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus Entry: Defeat

  1. Angela says:

    Yes, I wish we weren’t all so familiar with this emotion. *sad face*

    BUT, when we hit the big time, think of how awesome we’ll feel when we’re rereading the enthusiasm or happiness ones!

  2. Mary Witzl says:

    Christy took the words right out of my mouth. I was just about to write that this one is something I’m already so familiar with I hardly need a thesaurus. Every night I sit at the computer wondering if the call will come — and it doesn’t — and I end up going to bed with all of the slumping and blank eyes and mouth sags you could possibly want.

  3. Becca says:

    Woot! Glad to be of service!

  4. Pema says:

    Anytime I need help ‘showing’ vs. ‘telling’, The Bookshelf Muse is the first site I hit. So many emotions, so many actions. 😉

  5. PJ Hoover says:

    You guys realize I click over to this Thesaurus like a thousand times a day when writing? OK, not a thousand, but let’s just say I have you guys bookmarked in a special place!

  6. Angela says:

    Haha, Christy–you are too funny!

    (but yes, I’ve been watching you. I watch ALL of you! Muahahaaaa!)

  7. C.R. Evers says:

    Hey! This list is the EXACT routine that I go through after I receive a rejection letter. Have you been watching me? ;0)


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