Character Traits Thesaurus Entry: Worry Wart

Definition Characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear

Characters in Literature: Piglet, Mrs. Weasley, Bard of Dale (The Hobbit)

Common Portrayals: overprotective maternal figures, hypochondriacs, conspiracy theorists, chaperones and nurses (historical fiction)

Clichés to Avoid: the doting, stifling nanny or mother; sniffling, hand-wringing worriers

Twists on the Traditional Worry Wart: 

  • Worriers are so often weak and timid. The worrying warrior or leader could make for an interesting character.
  • Because worrying is a negative character trait, it’s usually assigned to background or support characters. A worry-wart hero would be one with a lot to overcome.
  • Turn worry into a positive by creating a character who worries excessively about others, but is utterly unconcerned with him or herself. 


This sample, along with the rest of the character trait entries, has been expanded into book form! Together, THE NEGATIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER FLAWS and THE POSITIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER ATTRIBUTES contain over 200 traits for you to choose from when creating unique, memorable characters. Each entry contains possible causes for the trait, as well as positive and negative aspects, traits in supporting characters that may cause conflict, and associated behaviors, attitudes, thoughts, and emotions. For more information on this bestselling book and where it can be found, please visit our bookstore.

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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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13 Responses to Character Traits Thesaurus Entry: Worry Wart

  1. I was never a worrier until I had kids. Now I find my brain going all kinds of unfriendly places. I fight it constantly, so I have a sneaking sympathy for the worry warts out there.

  2. Leslie Rose says:

    Love your example of Mrs. Weasley. She’s a strong/dynamic worrier.

  3. Stacy Green says:

    Did you jump into my brain? I’m a known worry wort, although I’ve gotten better in the last couple of years. It’s been tough having my own child, because I don’t want her to be like me.

    Great post!

  4. These are some of my children’s
    favorite worry warts. Great post
    and picture!!

  5. Abby says:

    I love this. We joke about people in my family having the “worry wart disease.” LOL. I do love your thoughts on using this for a character. Especially not the cliche stuff but the fun twists to it. 🙂

  6. I’ve never thought about creating a worry wart character, but I do like the idea–I myself can be a bit of one. 😛

  7. Bish Denham says:

    Great post! Worriers can make themselves sick too, both mentally and physically. Reality is enough stress for me without adding worry to it about things I can do nothing about.

  8. I like the other characteristic options you give for the worrier. Though it would be hard to make an easygoing worrier!

    Hermione is a bit of a mix. She worries constantly – especially about school. But it springs her into action. She’s ambitious and brave. And curious.

    Funny to see Mrs. Weasley and Piglet in the same category.

  9. I always loved Piglet and Eeyore. Their worrying and melancholy got me through childhood.

  10. Hi Angela and Becca..I am a huge worry wart(mom’s genes). My sister calls me a die-hard pessimist cause I always expect the worst.

    Thankfully, none of my characters have that trait. Most of them are brave and believe in themselves. Thanks for this post. I would love to create a worry wart in one of my stories and see what happens to that character.

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  12. Ava Jae says:

    I like that you point out not all worry warts have to be weak characters. It’s certainly something they’ll have to overcome (and something can be crippling if it gets out of control), but a strong character can still be a worrier.

  13. LOVE this! 🙂 I can be a worry wart lol

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