Where can I find a very thorough, comprehensive, expansive list of personality traits?
February 29, 2012 11:06 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find a very thorough, comprehensive, expansive list of personality traits?

A lot of times we use slang or jargon or pop-culture-type words and terms to describe others (positively or negatively) but I would like to know the ACTUAL words.

Example: The other day, someone was describing another person to me as a "one-upper". Now, we both knew what that meant and most of you probably do too, but what is the actual ADJECTIVE for someone like that? It's not exactly "pompous", not necessarily "conceited"...this is just an example, as I find myself very often thinking "What would the word for that be?" It's easy to look up a word and get a definition, but I don't know of any way to do the reverse, especially when you can't really pin down the definition (and this goes for any word, not just personality traits, but I guess that is a different question).

I've tried looking up synonyms of the "close-but-not-quite-the-same" words above, with no success.

I briefly considered the DSM-IV but that only pertains to mental disorders and I don't think I'd find what I'm looking for.

I Google'd 'personality traits' and most of what I saw was pretty elementary. I know there must be a resource for this kind of thing somewhere...
posted by lovableiago to Grab Bag (1 answer total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not certain if this exactly fits what you're looking for, as I don't think it will provide definitions for the traits nor will it allow you to look up words by searching through definitions, but....

I picked up this book on a whim at a used book sale once. I don't really consider myself a writer, but I do a lot of work developing characters for other artistic mediums and this has proven to be very useful, or at least amusing to flip through and get new ideas. It's got lists and lists of words that you can use to describe your character - personality traits just being one category.

This was over ten years ago, and I really think there has to be more books/websites out there that have been created to help writers develop their characters by listing possible personality traits. I don't know of any off the top of my head, but I suggest using search terms that pertain to writing fictional characters. I think this might help you find the type of list you're looking for!
posted by Squee at 12:02 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

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