List of Emotions & Meanings

Humans express a wide variety of emotions.
Humans express a wide variety of emotions. (Image: Three different emotions of the boy on a white background image by Aliaksandr Zabudzko from

Humans express a wide variety of emotions. Robert Plutchik, who was a professor emeritus at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, researched emotions and designed a color wheel that depicts the intensity level of emotions. Eight primary emotions, in three strengths, for a total of 24 emotions, form this wheel. These are: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger and anticipation. Eight other, and secondary, emotions are: love, submission, awe, disapproval, remorse, contempt, aggressiveness and optimism.


Serenity and its increasingly intense companions, joy and ecstasy, demonstrate increasingly positive feelings. Serenity is calmness. Joy shows happiness or gaiety. Ecstasy flows forth as pure delight or bliss.


Acceptance, and then trust and admiration, show increasing feelings of respect. Acceptance means approval. Trust means a firm belief in someone or something. Admiration signifies esteem.


Apprehension, fear and terror signify emotional discomfort. Apprehension means a sense of uneasiness. Fear represents aversion. Terror means phobia.


Distraction, surprise and amazement relate to the unexpected. Distraction shows a lack of focus. Surprise means unexpected, usually in reference to a gift or event. Amazement is astonishment or sudden wonder.


Pensiveness, sadness and grief represent intensified feelings of sorrow. Pensiveness shows sad thoughtfulness. Sadness means unhappiness. Grief generally relates to sorrow over death.


Boredom, disgust and loathing show aversion. Boredom represents a lack of interest. Disgust is repugnance. Loathing means extreme hatred.


Annoyance, anger and rage demonstrate levels of ire. Annoyance shows mild irritation. Anger may be spoken or nonverbal but demonstrates hostility. Rage vents as intense fury.


Interest, anticipation and vigilance show increasing concern. Interest is beginning attention. Anticipation marks an pleasurable expectation. Vigilance signifies watchfulness.

Love and Submission

Plutchik introduced the secondary emotions with love, although most people would consider it a primary emotion. Love demonstrates strong affection. Submission is a feeling of service.

Awe and Disapproval

Awe represents wonder combined with slight fear. Disapproval means censure.

Remorse and Contempt

Remorse means deep sorrow or disappointment. Contempt is disdain.

Aggressiveness and Optimism

Aggressiveness signifies the powerful outward expression of strong emotion such as that shown by bullies. Optimism shows a positive belief in the best possible outcomes.

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