Emotion Thesarus Entry: Hurt (Emotional)

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 jerking walk or run (fleeing a person or situation)
  • Replaying the hurtful event over and over
  • Nausea
  • Self-loathing
  • Hurt that turns to violence (throwing items, damaging property, breaking things)
  • Avoiding others
  • Seeking out the comfort of a loved one
  • Heavy limbs and numbness
  • Splotchy skin from crying, red nose, puffy eyes and lips
  • A trembling lip
  • Shaking the head in denial
  • Hyperventilating
  • Sudden weakness (leaning against a locker, wall, or doorway)
  • Flawed judgement…

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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[…] Conveying Hurt […]

Stina Lindenblatt
10 years ago

OMG! How did I miss this post?

12 years ago

Thanks everybody! And Kelly, those are great–thank you!

Bish Denham
12 years ago

Another great entry!

12 years ago

Great entry!
Eating comfort food or shopping to try and make the pain go away?

PJ Hoover
12 years ago

Ditto what Keri said. I love your blog!

keri mikulski :)
12 years ago

I love the Thesaurus entries. 🙂 Thanks.