Over 80 Words to Describe Your Ancestor's Facial Features

80 Words to help you describe your ancestor's facial features  #genealogy #writingtips


How would you describe someone to another person who has never met them? Sure you can define their character and positive traits. It would be better to describe their facial features so the second person can locate the first person in a crowd.

When it comes to describing our ancestors, we need to use words that will help our family pick out their ancestor in photos or in a list of names that might mean little without mental images based on physical descriptions.



When describing facial features, start with the easiest to describe first - eye color. Whenever possible, don't settle for dull words like blue and brown. Be more specific.

Eye Color
Coal
Ebony
Obsidian
Aquamarine
Baby Blue
Cornflower
Crystal
Gun-Metal
Chestnut
Dirt/Mud
Topaz
Charcoal
Graphite
Silver
Bottle Green
Emerald
Jade
Hazel
Violet
Ultramarine

Once you've described the eye color, provide details about the eye shape. This can be challenging but give it a go.

Eye Shape
Almond-shaped
Squinty
Bulging
Heavy-lidded
Hooded
Deep-set
Close-set
Hollow 
Wide-set
Evenly-spaced
Prominent
Downturned
Monolid
Upturned
Sleepy
Sultry


Once you have the eyes covered, zoom out and focus on the face shape. In make-up, there are seven basic face shapes, but in writing, we can be more creative with our choices. Granted, some words are a bit inflammatory, so be careful which ones you use. In the meantime, let's have a little fun exploring the possibilities!


Face Shape
Square
Oval
Round
Triangular
Heart-shaped
Thin
Wide
Chiseled
Blocky
Box-shaped
Broad
Diamond-shaped
Expansive
Flat
Irregular
Long
Marshmallow-shaped
Moon-round
Narrow
Oblong
Pumpkinesque
Pyramid-shaped
Rectangular


Okay, pumpkinesque and marshmallow-shaped are probably not the best choices for our ancestors. I included them for laughs, to check if you were reading, and to trigger other descriptive words you could use.

I like words such as moon-round or flat. I especially when like these words when combined with another adjective such as broad, moon-round or narrow, flat face.

Next move on to Skin color and texture. It's not enough to say white or black. That does nothing to account for the spectrum of skin colors, but also take into account the texture of the skin.


Skin/ Complexion
Ruddy
Sallow
Tanned
Rosy
Umber
Fawn
Beige
Warm
Cool
Pale
Fair
Caramel
Ebony
Translucent
Peaches-and-cream
Craggy
Weathered
Acned
Clean-shaven
Marred
Smooth
Baby-soft
Leathery
Mottled
Dry
Fresh-faced
Paper-thin
Dimpled
Hatchet-faced 
Wrinkled
Freckled


Many photographs can provide a hint as to the skin color and complexion of an individual. Isn't umber, baby-soft a better way to describe dark, soft skin? I think so.

One final feature of facial descriptions is the hair, especially on men in past generations. Choosing the right words about the hairy side of a face can nail down a description of a man.

Facial Hair
Clean-shaven
Bearded
Goatee
Scruffy
Handle-bar  mustache
Five o'clock shadow
Stubble
Bushy
Whiskered
Neatly-trimmed
Pencil-mustache
Soul Patch
Bristly



Give it a go. Describe the mug of the man or woman you call ancestor. When you do, put a link in the comments to your blog post, Facebook postings or Instagram photo with your description.

Once again, the important thing to remember when describing you ancestor is to do your best to help paint a picture for your readers. If someone disagrees with your word choice, tell them to go write their own story!

Over 80 words to describe your ancestors eye color and shape, facial hair and face shape #genealogy #writingtips
Photos on this page courtesy of
Creative Commons c
ontributor simpleinsomnia



2 comments:

  1. Thank you for the great reminder to go the distance in describing and heading a photo ~ Sharon

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post! I can definitely do better in my descriptions of my ancestors! Actually, I'm not sure I have ever really sat down and described one of them in the way you mention. Hmm...food for thought!

    Sue (KindredPast)

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