Smart Sounding Words For Essays On Success

Edited to add:

Her Royal Sweetness Lisa Burger realized what a pain it is to scroll through this long-ass list and kindly whipped up a lovely document that you can use as your very own swipe file. Now ain’t that sweet! Get it here.

Words aren’t just strings of alphabets sewn together with ink

Words are cues

Words are triggers

Words when used correctly can transform an “eh whatever” into “wow that’s it!”

Words can make you go from literally ROFL to fuming with fury to an uncontrollable-urge-to-take-action-NOW-or-the-earth-may-stop-swinging -on-its-axis.


These are what I call High Emotion Words


And these are capable of transforming an absolute no into almost yes and a “perhaps” into “for sure”!


Because it isn’t really about your desired action but the underlying emotion that drives that action. If you get them to feel that emotion, you GOT ‘em.


When you are trying to sell people a solution, what you are REALLY doing is evoking desire by making them imagine their best possible future with your solution

When you are trying to get them to take an action (like, share, subscribe, buy) what you are REALLY doing is arousing them (not THAT way… get your mind out of the gutter) to make it impossible for them NOT to take an action

When you are trying to get people to click and read your article, what you are REALLY doing is evoking curiosity so fierce that it claws at the minds of a casual browser and forces him to click that link and read that piece.

When you are trying to get someone to agree with you, what you are REALLY doing is trying to evoke empathy so they see your point of view.

So what are these high emotion words that can work this magic?

Glad you asked.

I have compiled a list of 380 words that are proven to induce certain emotions (both negative and positive) and that I strongly encourage you use in your online (and offline) communications to get your prospect to take the desired action.


But before  I share the list with you, here is a 3 step plan to get the most out of these words:


Step One: Determine the desired action you want your prospect to take (e.g. like, share, read, subscribe, comment, buy etc.)

Step Two: Determine the exact emotional state that will drive that action (e.g. curious, relaxed, fearful, inspired etc.)

Step Three: Choose some of the words from this list and sprinkle ‘em throughout your content.

And now The List:


Emotional State: Curiosity (when you want them to be gripped by an unshakable desire to click and read more):

  • Secret
  • Confidential
  • Controversial
  • Underground
  • What no one tells you
  • Have you heard
  • Cover-up
  • Forbidden
  • Banned
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Secret agenda
  • Secret plot
  • Insider
  • Off-the record
  • Blacklisted
  • Censored
  • Concealed
  • Confessions
  • Unbelievable
  • Covert
  • No one talks about
  • Hidden
  • underground
  • Insider’s Scoop
  • Intel


Emotional State: Urgency (If you want then to take action now now now):

  • Magical
  • Instantly
  • Missing Out
  • Left behind
  • Magnificent
  • Miracle
  • Most Important
  • Profitable
  • Proven
  • Quick
  • Remarkable
  • Results
  • Revolutionary
  • Safe
  • Save
  • Sensational
  • Should
  • Startling
  • Strongly agree/ recommend
  • Strongly suggest
  • Superb
  • Superior
  • Tremendous
  • Truly
  • Trustworthy
  • Urge
  • Worthwhile
  • Deadline
  • Limited
  • Seize
  • bargain
  • Discount
  • Explode
  • Extra
  • Fortune
  • Freebie
  • Jackpot
  • Reduced
  • Instant Savings
  • Skyrocket
  • Immediately
  • Imminently 

Emotional State: Confusion and Helplessness (Especially useful when questioning Status Quo, making them realize what they are missing out or “us vs them” style content)

  • doubtful
  • uncertain
  • indecisive
  • perplexed
  • embarrassed
  • hesitant
  • disillusioned
  • distrustful
  • misgiving
  • unsure
  • tense
  • stressed
  • uncomfortable
  • dishonest
  • disdainful
  • manipulative
  • judgmental
  • argumentative
  • authoritative
  • condescending
  • distracted
  • disoriented
  • off-kilter
  • frenzied
  • blushing
  • awkward
  • incapable
  • paralyzed
  • fatigued
  • inferior
  • vulnerable
  • distressed
  • pathetic
  • distraught
  • doomed
  • overwhelmed
  • incompetent
  • incapacitated
  • trapped
  • squirming
  • jittery
  • woozy
  • twitching
  • compulsive
  • uncaring
  • uninterested
  • unresponsive
  • terrified
  • suspicious
  • anxious
  • alarmed
  • panicked
  • threatened
  • cowardly
  • insecure
  • Deceived 
  • Helplessness
  • Disempowered
Emotional State: Anger (This is a high physiological arousal emotional state that can help drive a number of actions such as getting support for a cause or sharing content because of the sheer outrage felt)
  • Ordeal
  • Outrageousness
  • Provoke
  • Repulsive
  • Scandal
  • Severe
  • Shameful
  • Shocking
  • Terrible
  • Tragic
  • Unreliable
  • Unstable
  • Wicked
  • Aggravate
  • Agony
  • Appalled
  • Atrocious
  • Corrupting
  • Damaging
  • Deplorable
  • Disadvantages
  • Disastrous
  • Disgusted
  • Dreadful
  • Eliminate
  • Harmful
  • Harsh
  • Inconsiderate
  • enraged
  • offensive
  • aggressive
  • frustrated
  • controlling
  • resentful
  • malicious
  • infuriated
  • critical
  • violent
  • vindictive
  • sadistic
  • spiteful
  • furious
  • agitated
  • antagonistic
  • repulsed
  • quarrelsome
  • venomous
  • rebellious
  • exasperated
  • impatient
  • contrary
  • condemning
  • seething
  • scornful
  • sarcastic
  • poisonous
  • jealous
  • ticked off
  • revengeful
  • retaliating
  • reprimanding
  • powerless
  • despicable
  • self-hating
  • desperate
  • alienated
  • pessimistic
  • dejected
  • vilified
  • unjustified
  • violated

Emotional State: Safe and Satisfied (Great for Sales Pages when you want people to feel secure in their choice)

  • Accurate
  • instantly
  • Advantage
  • Always
  • A cut above
  • Bargain
  • Certain
  • Certainly
  • Confident
  • Convenient
  • Definitely
  • Delighted
  • Easy
  • Ecstatic
  • Effective
  • Emphasize
  • Extremely
  • Freedom
  • Guaranteed
  • Highly effective/ likely
  • Introducing
  • First ever
  • Investment
  • conscientious
  • approving
  • honored
  • privileged
  • adaptable
  • relaxed
  • Astonishing
  • Astounded
  • assured
  • fulfilled
  • genuine
  • authentic
  • self-sufficient
  • reliable
  • sure
  • secure
  • stable
  • honest
  • truthful
  • supportive
  • excellent
  • responsible
  • solid
  • trusting
  • supported
  • Absolutely
  • Bargain
  • clarity
  • transparency
  • humility

Emotional State: Happy and Alive (Health based products or services):


  • blissful
  • joyous
  • delighted
  • overjoyed
  • gleeful
  • thankful
  • festive
  • ecstatic
  • satisfied
  • cheerful
  • sunny
  • elated
  • jubilant
  • jovial
  • fun-loving
  • lighthearted
  • glorious
  • innocent
  • child-like
  • gratified
  • euphoric
  • on top of the
  • world
  • playful
  • courageous
  • energetic
  • liberated
  • optimistic
  • frisky
  • animated
  • spirited
  • thrilled
  • wonderful
  • funny
  • intelligent
  • exhilarated
  • spunky
  • youthful
  • vigorous
  • tickled
  • creative
  • constructive
  • helpful
  • resourceful
  • at ease
  • comfortable
  • pleased
  • encouraged
  • surprised
  • content
  • serene
  • bright
  • blessed
  • Vibrant
  • Bountiful
  • Glowing

Emotional State: Inspired (as part of content that is meant to inspire and make them feel like they are capable and in charge)

  • motivated
  • eager
  • keen
  • earnest
  • inspired
  • enthusiastic
  • bold
  • brave
  • daring
  • hopeful
  • upbeat
  • assured
  • clear
  • balanced
  • fine
  • okay
  • grateful
  • carefree
  • adequate
  • fulfilled
  • genuine
  • authentic
  • forgiving
  • sincere
  • uplifted
  • unburdened
  • confident
  • self-sufficient
  • reliable
  • sure
  • unique
  • dynamic
  • tenacious
  • cooperative
  • productive
  • exuberant
  • in the zone
  • responsive
  • conscientious
  • approving
  • honored
  • privileged
  • adaptable
  • Empowered
  • Focused
  • Capable

Emotional State: Relaxed and Peaceful (Products or services that offer mental peace and relaxation):


  • calm
  • at ease
  • comfortable
  • content
  • quiet
  • certain
  • relaxed
  • serene
  • bright
  • blessed
  • balanced
  • grateful
  • carefree
  • fulfilled
  • genuine
  • authentic
  • forgiving
  • sincere
  • uplifted
  • unburdened
  • confident
  • self-sufficient
  • glowing
  • radiant
  • beaming
  • reflective
  • smiling
  • grounded
  • unhurried
  • open-minded
  • efficient
  • non-controlling
  • unassuming
  • trusting
  • supported
  • fluid
  • light
  • spontaneous
  • aware
  • healthy
  • meditative
  • still
  • rested
  • waiting
  • laughing
  • graceful
  • natural
  • steady
  • centered
  • placid
  • Clear
  • Stoic
  • Aligned

phewwwww that was one long ass list don’t you think?

But how about we make it to 500. Now that’s a thought!

Help make that happen guys and drop some of your favorite high emotion words in the comments and I will go and add those to this list (with credit of course)

Ready. Set. GO!

Edited to Add:

I literally have the BEST readers ever and the the ever generous & awesome (Not to mention with the coolest name Eva!)  Jo Jo Fildi has contributed some 20+ words making it a square 400. I have added those above colored in blue.




The Work of Byron Katie

Persuasive and Emotive Language




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The academic community can be conservative when it comes to writing styles, but your writing shouldn’t be so boring that people lose interest midway through the first paragraph! Given that competition is at an all-time high for academics looking to publish their papers, we know you must be anxious about what you can do to improve your publishing odds. To be sure, your research must be sound.  But it also must be clearly explained. So, how do you go about achieving the latter?

Below are a few ways to breathe life into your writing.

1. Analyze vocabulary with word clouds

Have you heard of the website, Wordle? It’s a word-cloud generation site, and if you click on “Create your own,” copy and paste your draft manuscript into the text box that appears, you may quickly discover how repetitive your writing is!

Seeing a visual word cloud of your work might also help you assess the key themes and points readers will glean from your paper. If the Wordle result displays words you hadn’t intended to emphasize, then it’s a sign you should revise your paper to make sure readers will focus on the right information. *Your browser will need access to Java to run the Wordle applet.

As an example, below is a Wordle of our recent article entitled, “How to Choose the Best title for Your Journal Manuscript.” You can see how frequently certain terms appear in that post, based on the font size of the text. The key words, “titles,” “journal,” “research,” and “papers,” were all the intended focus of our blog post.

2. Study language patterns of similarly published works

Study the language pattern found in the most downloaded and cited articles published by your target journal. Understanding the journal’s editorial preferences will help you write in a style that appeals to the publication’s readership.

Another way to analyze the language of a target journal’s papers is to use Wordle (see above). If you copy and paste the text of an article related to your research topic into the applet, you can discover the common phrases and terms the paper’s authors used.

For example, if you were writing a paper on links between smoking and cancer, you might look for a recent review on the topic, preferably published by your target journal. Copy and paste the text into Wordle and examine the key phrases to see if you’ve included similar wording in your own draft. The Wordle result might look like the following, based on the example linked above.

3. Use more active and precise verbs

Have you heard of synonyms? Of course you have, but have you looked beyond single word replacements and rephrased entire clauses with stronger, more vivid ones? You’ll find this task is easier to do if you use the active voice more often than the passive voice. Even if you keep your original sentence structure, you can eliminate weak verbs like “be” from your drafts and choose more vivid and precise actions verbs. As always, however, be careful about using a thesaurus to identify synonyms. Make sure the substitutes fit the context in which you need a more interesting or “perfect” word.

To help you build a strong arsenal of commonly used phrases in academic papers, we’ve compiled a list of synonyms you might want to consider when drafting or revising your research paper. While we do not suggest that the phrases in the “Original Word/Phrase” column should be completely avoided, we do recommend interspersing these with the more dynamic terms found under “Recommended Substitutes.”


A. Describing the scope of a current project or prior research

PurposeOriginal Word/PhraseRecommended Substitute
To express the purpose of a paper or research
  • This paper/ study/ investigation…
This paper + [use the verb that originally followed "aims to"] or This paper + (any other verb listed above as a substitute for “explain”) + who/what/when/where/how X. For example:
  • “This paper applies X to Y,” instead of, “This paper aims to apply X to Y.”
  • “This paper explores how lower sun exposure impacts moods,” instead of, “This paper aims to address the impact of lower sun exposure on moods.”
To introduce the topic of a project or paper
  • The paper/ study/ article/ work…
  • Prior research/ investigations…
  • surveys
  • questions
  • highlights
  • outlines
  • features
  • investigates
To describe the analytical scope of a paper or study
  • The paper/ study/ article/ work…
  • Prior research/ investigations…
  • considers
  • analyzes
  • explains
  • evaluates
  • interprets
  • clarifies
  • identifies
  • delves into
  • advances
  • appraises
  • defines
  • dissects
  • probes
  • tests
  • explores

*Adjectives to describe degree can include: briefly, thoroughly, adequately, sufficiently, inadequately, insufficiently, only partially, partially, etc.

To preview other sections of a paper
  • covers
  • deals with
  • talks about
  • outlines
  • highlights
  • sketches
  • assesses
  • contemplates

[any of the verbs suggested as replacements for “explain,” “analyze,” and “consider” above]


B. Outlining a topic’s background

PurposeOriginal Word/PhraseRecommended Substitute
To discuss the historical significance of a topic
  • Subject/ Mechanism…
  • plays an important in [nominalization]
  • plays a vital role in [nominalization]
Topic significantly/considerably +
  • influences
  • controls
  • regulates
  • directs
  • inhibits
  • constrains
  • governs

+ who/what/when/where/how…


*In other words, take the nominalized verb and make it the main verb of the sentence.

To describe the historical popularity of a topic
  • …is widely accepted as…
  • …is widely used as…


  • Widely accepted, … [to eliminate the weak be verb]
  • The preferred…
  • Commonly/Frequently implemented,… [to eliminate the weak be verb]
  • The prevailing method for…
To describe the recent focus on a topic
  • Much attention has been drawn to
  • …has gained much importance in recent years
  • Discussions regarding X have dominated research in recent years.
  • …has appealed to…
  • …has propelled to the forefront in investigations of Y.
  • … has dramatically/significantly shaped queries on X in recent years.
  • …has critically influenced academic dialogue on Y.
To identify the current majority opinion about a topic
  • The consensus has been that…
  • Prior research generally confirms that…
  • Several studies agree that…
  • Prior research substantiates the belief that…
To discuss the findings of existing literature
  • indicate
  • have documented
  • have demonstrated
  • have shown that
  • contend
  • purport
  • suggest
  • proffer
  • have proven that
  • evidence
To express the breadth of our current knowledge-base, including gaps
  • Much is known about…
  • But, little is known about…
  • The academic community has extensively explored X…
  • Prior research has thoroughly investigated….
  • However, little research has been conducted to show…
  • However, prior studies have failed to evaluate/ identify / (any other word suggested to replace “analyze” above)
To segue into expressing your research question
  • Several theories have been proposed to explain…
  • To solve this problem, many researchers have tried several methods
  • Recent/Previous studies have promoted…
  • Prior investigations have implemented/ queried diverse approaches to…
  • A number of authors have posited…


C. Describing the analytical elements of a paper

PurposeOriginal Word/PhraseRecommended Substitute
To express agreement between one finding and another
  • This paper/ study/ investigation
  • substantiates
  • confirms
  • corroborates
  • underlines
To present contradictory findings
  • This paper/ study/ investigation
  • challenges
  • disputes
  • rebuts
  • refutes
  • disproves
  • debunks
  • invalidates
  • rejects
  • questions
To discuss limitations of a study
  • The limitations of this paper include:
  • These investigations, however, disregards…
  • This method/ approach fails to…
  • This study only…
  • …falls short of addressing/ identifying / illustrating…
  • A drawback/disadvantage of this framework is…
  • This framework, however, solely pertains to…


D. Discussing results

PurposeOriginal Word/PhraseRecommended Substitute
To draw inferences from results
  • The data…
  • These findings…
  • extrapolate
  • deduce
  • surmise
  • approximate
  • derive
  • extract
  • evidence
To describe observations
  • [Observed event or result]…
  • manifested
  • surfaced
  • materialized
  • yielded
  • generated
  • perceived
  • detected


E. Discussing methods

PurposeOriginal Word/PhraseRecommended Substitute
To discuss methods
  • This study…
  • X method…
  • applied
  • administered
  • employed
  • diffused
  • disseminated
  • relayed
To describe simulations
  • was created to…
  • was used to…
  • was performed to…
This study/ research…
  • simulated
  • replicated
  • imitated


“X environment/ condition to..”


[any of the verbs suggested as replacements for “analyze” above]


F. Explaining the impact of new research

PurposeOriginal Word/PhraseRecommended Substitute
To explain the impact of a paper’s findings
  • This paper/ study/ investigation
  • illustrates
  • proves
  • evidences
  • strengthens (the position that)
To highlight a paper’s conclusion
  • This paper/ study/ investigation
  • attributes
  • illustrates
  • advances (the idea that)
To explain how research contributes to the existing knowledge-base
  • This paper/ study/ investigation
  • ushers in
  • proffers
  • conveys
  • promotes
  • advocates
  • introduces
  • broach (issue)
  • reveals
  • unveils
  • exposes
  • unearths

Additional writing resources

For additional information on how to tighten your sentences (e.g., eliminate wordiness and use active voice to greater effect), check out the following articles:

How to Strengthen Your Writing Style

Avoid Fillers If You Want to Write Powerful Sentences

How to Improve Your Writing: Eliminate Prepositions

How to Improve Your Writing: Avoid Nominalizations

Articles about how to draft specific parts of a research paper can be found here.

Additional grammar tips can be found here.

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