Adjectives to Describe Impressiveness

On British novelist Zadie Smith's new collection of essays, entitled Changing My Mind, reviewer Ella Taylor writes:

Taken together, they reflect a lively, unselfconscious, rigorous, erudite and earnestly open mind that's busy refining its view of life, literature and a great deal in between. Delightful, painful and spontaneously funny…

Lively, rigorous, erudite, unselfconscious, earnestly open-minded, delightful, painful, spontaneously funny: not a bad set of adjectives.

I am always interested in how you can describe really talented people. "Smart" has been overused to be devoid of meaning. The most original and descriptive adjective from the above list is: unselfconscious.

Here's my review of Smith's On Beauty.

6 Responses to Adjectives to Describe Impressiveness

  1. For about a year I’ve kept a list of adjectives that I want people to describe me as, and a list I never want to be associated with. Pretty good way to make decisions 🙂

  2. Eugene says:

    Thanks for this post Ben!

    Of course, the word that resonates the most with me is “erudite,” as I have been running Erudite Expressions, my daily photoblog for the last three and a half years…

    My original intention was to provide commentary from the books and articles I read to the pictures I posted, but I realized I couldn’t do that with every post. Still, the name has stuck…

    I have subscribed for a “google alert” to any news instances of “Erudite” on the web :).



  3. DaveJ says:

    How about “so talented as to defy an adjectival account.”

  4. Ben Casnocha says:

    A great way to put it indeed.

  5. Janet says:

    thank you! that’s brilliant of you to point out. my hero!

  6. Unselfconscious is an amazing word. Nails right on the head what I love about my favorite people. I try to be conscious without being self-conscious.


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