top of page

What are some good phrases for compositions? Personality Idioms and Character traits


Character traits and personality idioms

The biggest misconception a student has when it comes to English composition writing is that the more he or she writes, the better it must be. This is simply not true. The best piece of writing is getting your point across in the shortest yet captivating way possible. Something like what Ernest Hemingway did in his famous six-word story,

For sale: baby shoes, never worn

A composition is roughly two to three pages long. Within these pages, a student is expected to write a compelling story with compelling characters. How do we express complex characters in a simpler way?

Personality idioms or character traits.

These are nifty little tools to give a snapshot of who your main character is without having to explain in long exhausting paragraphs.

Most primary school compositions are narratives that focus on a theme and a lesson learnt. Character traits are the easiest ways to point out a main character’s flaw and what lesson he or she needs to learn throughout the course of the story.

In our composition classes, we have a simple mantra.

Every story needs to have a problem. Every good story has a problematic character. A flawed character is one that has to learn a lesson. Many primary school compositions focus on themes where the lesson learnt is the centre of the story. This is why character traits or personality idioms are the best to explain problematic characters.

Why use character traits or personality idioms?

Good words and phrases are essential when it comes to scoring for compositions. The usage of idioms shows your mastery over the English language and boosts the language score.

Here is a comprehensive list of personality idioms or character traits.

Let’s explore how these idioms can be used in composition writing. We have included formal and informal phrases. The best way to use them is to include an example to elaborate the character trait.

E.g My sister Susan is a social butterfly. You can find her at most parties whereas I am a wallflower.


Personality Idiom


Slimeball (informal)

Meaning: A repulsive or despicable person

The manager of the store was a slimeball who took pleasure in seeing people’s misery.


Social butterfly

Meaning: An outgoing person who likes to make friends

My sister Sarah had no problem adapting to a new school. She is a social butterfly and making friends is easy for her.


Wet blanket (informal)

Meaning: a person who spoils other people's fun by failing to join in with or by disapproving of their activities.

My sister was being a wet blanket by not participating in my party.


Set in one’s ways

Meaning: unwilling to change one's habits, behaviours, opinions, etc.

My grandfather is set in his ways when it comes to technology. He refuses to embrace it.


Stubborn mule

Meaning: extremely obstinate person

Nothing you say can change Greg’s mind. He is a stubborn mule!


Go-getter (informal)

Meaning: someone who is very energetic, determined to be successful

My sister is a go-getter. She always accomplishes what she sets her mind to.


A man or his word

A woman of her word

Meaning: Someone who keeps their promise.

I knew I could trust Jane. She is a woman of her word.


Smart-aleck (informal)

Meaning: a person who is irritating because they behave as if they know everything.

I despised Pam. Pam was careless, childish and a smart-aleck. She always acted like she was above everybody.


Smarty pants

Meaning: someone who wants to appear to be clever

Kathy can be such a smarty pants. She always likes to show off how much she knows.


Couch potato (informal)

Meaning: a person who takes little or no exercise and watches a lot of television.

My little sister is a couch potato. She watches television all day and night. She and the couch are inseparable.


Know-it-all (informal)

Meaning: a person who behaves as if they know everything.

Her know-it-all attitude annoys her classmates.