Character Trait Thesaurus Entry: Curious

Definition: marked by a desire to investigate and learn

Characters in Literature: Alice (in Wonderland), Curious George, Harriet (the Spy)

Common Portrayals: scientists, inventors, children

Clichés to Avoid: the feeble minded but good hearted bumbler who finds everything interesting; the child who repeatedly asks “why?”, the eccentric scientist

Twists on the Traditional Curious Character: 

▪ Curiosity is usually displayed as a childish characteristic. What about a competent adult with a childlike curiosity about the world or a particular topic?

▪ Curious characters are usually somewhat awkward or socially backward and so are often cast as secondary characters. How about a curious hero? Or a curious villain who’s motivated by his need to know?

▪ Those who are curious usually love to share their knowledge with others. Why not create a curious character who is secretive and selfish with his findings–maybe one who’s curiosity is a means to a conniving end?

Build a worthy protagonist with a mix of unique strengths that will help him overcome obstacles and achieve meaningful goals.

This sample, along with the rest of the character trait entries, has been expanded into book form. Together, the bestselling NEGATIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER FLAWS and POSITIVE TRAIT THESAURUS: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO CHARACTER ATTRIBUTES contain over 200 traits for you to choose from when creating memorable, compelling 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.

Love working online and having your favorite description resources in one place? We’ve got you covered. The entries from the Positive Trait Thesaurus book have been integrated into our online library at One Stop For Writers. Now you can search and cross-reference between all our thesaurus collections quickly and easily. Interested in viewing a free sample? Register at One Stop and see all that this intuitive library for writers has to offer.

 Thesaurus Pair


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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Dave Byerlee
8 years ago

Curious characters can add a certain whimsy to a story and can be diverting for the reader. In film and TV sometimes the curious character can become the star think of Dr Spock in Star Trek or the weird villain in any number of crime or cowboy TV shows and movies. In fiction the curious character can have gravitas and pathos think of tiny in ‘Of mice and men’. Three cheers for curious characters.

Carrie Butler
8 years ago

Great post, as usual!

P.S. Why does Curious George have to be so stinkin’ cute? 😀

Julie Musil
8 years ago

Have I mentioned how brilliant you two are? Just today I looked up “angry,” and used one of your suggestions. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. You’re like Cliff Notes for writers 😀 (<=my extreme happy face)

8 years ago

great,i love it very much

8 years ago

Holy moly! This website is a goldmine! Thanks for all of this!

Matthew MacNish
8 years ago


Susanne Drazic
8 years ago

At times, my cat is too curious for his own good. He’ll use his nose to move items around, trying to find out what is underneath. Don’t let him around one of my piles of papers. He’s sent a few falling to the floor.

Jemi Fraser
8 years ago

I think most writers are curious folks – I know I’m always, always asking questions and I love to find out ‘stuff’! 🙂

Becca Puglisi
8 years ago

Welcome, Jamie!

8 years ago

Hi there! I just found your blog and I’m quite taken by it. This entry on the curious character trait is interesting, and it’s already spawned a few new ideas.

I don’t know why, but for whatever reason it never occurred to me to look for writing blogs; I usually hang around artsy/crafty places. I’m not even sure how I got here, but here I am, and now I’ve enlisted as a stalker. Don’t worry, I’m not usually dangerous.

Usually. Anyway, stop by for a visit, if you like: 🙂

Susan Flett Swiderski
8 years ago

As someone with a life-long insatiable curiosity, I prefer to think of it as a thirst for knowledge. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back.

Traci Kenworth
8 years ago

I love curious, inquisitive children. The “whys” are so much fun to speculate. Thanks for this entry!!

Bonnee Crawford
8 years ago

Curious people are so adorable 😀

Catrina Barton
8 years ago

This is awesome. Thanks for all of your hard work ladies. 🙂