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41 Emotions as Expressed Through Body Language

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41 Emotions as Expressed through Body Language unique

This list, while exhausting, is soooo not exhaustive; it barely scratches the surface. And each entry could easily become cliché (if it isn't already). But, it should be enough to get you started. Want more? Start watching people (not in a creepy way), and take notes of what they seem to do when expressing different emotions. Your repertoire of expression will double in no time. PS--do not use these for actual, real-life body language reading; you will fail. These are strictly novelistic.



-jawed, raised eyebrows, staring

-Frozen, slack body language (Self? What self? There is only Zuul.)

-Take a step back and put a hand to his heart


-Smiling and throwing back her head laughing

-Slapping her thighs, stamping her feet, clapping her hands

-Shaking her head (That's so wrong!)


-Sharp movements, like shaking a fist, pointing, slashing, or slamming a fist on a table

-Flushed face, patchy red blotches

-Tension in neck--chords standing out, veins throbbing--and jutting or tucked chin

-Arms akimbo, or clenching fists

-Entering someone else's space and forcing them out

-Poofing up with a wide stance (I am big! Very big!), arms wide (Bring it!)

-Lowered eyebrows, squinting eyes

-Teeth bared, jaw clenched, snarling


-Pressing lips together into a thin line

-Narrowing eyes sometimes with slight head tilt (Why do you still exist?)

-Rolling eyes, often paired with a long-suffering sigh


-Fidgeting, such as tearing grass into little pieces, playing with a ring, or chewing on a pencil

-Biting lower lip, swallowing unnecessarily

-Quickened breathing or holding breath

-Darting eyes

-Pallor, sweating, clammy palms

-Unusually high-pitched, "nervous" laughter

-Hunched shoulders



-Slow head nodding with a furrowed brow

-Leaning forward, toward the speaker, and sitting up

-Taking notes

-Looking over the top of her glasses


-Resting his head on his palm, peeking out between the fingers, maybe even slipping so his head "accidentally" hits the table

-Tapping toes, twirling pencil, doodling, and otherwise fidgeting

-Staring out a window, or at anything remotely more interesting (Which is everything . . .)


-Arms clasped behind body

-Head lifted, chest out, standing tall

-Walking briskly and making firm, precise movements


-Tilting head with narrowed eyes

-A furrowed brow



-Lifted chin (The better to look down the nose.)

-Pursed lips, sneering, slight frown

-Circling a shoulder, stretching her neck, turning away--anything to indicate she doesn't see the person as a threat or worthy of her attention

-Grabbing her lapels, or tucking her thumbs in her waistcoat (See this clothing? It is much nicer than yours.)

-Dismissive hand-waving


-Twisted lips or a half-smile

-Sneering, sometimes with shaking the head and other defensive body language

-Pressed lips with a slight frown

-Eye rolling


-Crossed arms, legs, crossed anything, really (Well, maybe not fingers . . . or eyes . . .)

-Arms out, palms forward (Stop!)

-Placing anything (sword, shield, book, backpack) in front of her body


-Crinkling his nose

-Curling his lip and/or showing the tip of his tongue briefly

-Flinching back and interposing a shoulder or turning away

-Covering his nose, gagging, and squinting his eyes shut--hard--for a moment. (It assaults all the senses.)


-A plastered-on fake smile (You suck; but I can't tell you that. So here: a fake smile! Enjoy.)

-Pouting or frowning (I'll cry if you don't give me what I want--don't test me, I will!)

-Crossed arms and other defensive/frustrated body language (I will not let that terrible idea influence me!)


-Wide eyes and shallow, rapid breathing

-Beating the walls, or huddling into a corner

-Clasping hands over his head protectively

-Rocking himself





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