Synonyms based on Emotion

Synonyms can be used to provide more specific (or more general) information about the original word, or they can reflect/establish the tone of the situation. Sometimes a good synonym can not only replace a word with similar meaning, but can also eliminate the need for a modifier.

In this project, we’ll look at synonyms for verbs that incorporate an emotion or attitude that the doer of the action (the subject) exhibits. For instance, what’s the difference between strut, mosey, dawdle, and prance? The are all synonyms of walk (or perhaps more broadly: go). The differences between them do involve physicality, but also each tends to be associated with a cert set of emotions or attitudes. For example, strut demonstrates confidence, while dawdle demonstrates reluctance or uncertainty. Thus, we could say that ‘walk confidently’ = ‘strut’ and that ‘walk hesitantly’ = ‘dawdle’.

Put your students into groups of three, perhaps, give them the following list of verbs. You may need to demonstrate each verb, or at least the ones they request. The students must identify an emotion or attitude that is associated with each (if you’d like to practice adverbs, have them put the emotion/attitude in adverb form and place it next to the general verb, as with the end of the previous paragraph). To accomplish this, students may have to consult a dictionary, or you may need to introduce more emotion words.


  • strut
  • mosey
  • dawdle
  • prance
  • scoot
  • hobble
  • plod
  • creep
  • shuffle
  • trot
  • stagger
  • gallop
  • traipse
  • trudge
  • swagger
  • waddle
  • glide
  • meander


  • glance
  • survey
  • peek
  • gawk
  • behold
  • peruse
  • scrutinize
  • leer
  • ogle


  • divulge
  • command
  • insist
  • utter
  • articulate
  • pronounce
  • assert
  • mutter
  • exclaim
  • snarl
  • hiss
  • bellow
  • swear
  • whine
  • stammer
  • jabber
  • protest
  • mumble


  • chuckle
  • snicker
  • crack up
  • shriek
  • giggle
  • chortle
  • guffaw
  • titter
  • snort


  • accept
  • seize
  • snatch
  • attain
  • collect
  • grab
  • acquire
  • receive
  • obtain

Note that there my be more than one correct answer to some of these. For example, swearing could be done in anger, or it could be done in all earnestness.

As always, feel free to add your own words to these groups, or to add your own group to this list.

Get more with Insider Access


Advanced Features in Student Projects

search and filter

planning info


Extra Video Content

more How-to-Teach grammar videos*

with intros, instructions, and summaries

*compared to free resources


Exclusive Supplemental Resources


posters & handouts

bonus notes


For the Good

This project is for practicing ADVERBIAL CLAUSES. Students engage in a webquest to learn more about an activism event or campaign, building awareness of social, environmental, or economical causes while practicing grammar!

Read More »

Category Dictionary

In this project for beginners or young learners, students keep a notebook of many of the vocab words they’ve learned, designated by category, and paged alphabetically.

Read More »

WebQuest: Gestures

We often communicate through body language. Gestures might convey certain emotions, be important in certain situations, use different body parts, and be universal or not. Let’s see what gestures we can identify.

Read More »

Crime & Justice

Re-enact a criminal case: craft the situation around a fictional robbery, conduct an investigation, and put on a mock trial. This project works best with multiple classes.

Read More »

Myths Live On

English has many words with Greek roots, and some of those are based in Greek myths. In this WebQuest, students will learn about a character from Greek mythology, one of their key stories, and some of the vocabulary words that are named after that character.

Read More »

Share This Post