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Thesaurus ~ Alternatives for ‘look’

After going through my latest WIP and checking for my repeated use of the word ‘look’, I made a list of possible alternatives.

Verb: to look


Mrs. Wright looked at him | she looked out of the window

glancegazestaregapepeerfix one’s gazefocuspeeppeektake a lookwatchexaminestudyinspectscanscrutinizesurveycheckcontemplateconsiderseeobserveviewregardpay attention totake note ofmarkcheck outglimpsespotspy, track, lay one’s eyes oncatch sight ofeyetake inogleinformal take a gandergive someone/something a/the once-overhave a squintget a load ofrubberneckrecceBrit. informal take a dekkotake a butcher’stake a shufticlockgawp, eyeball, beholdespydescry

a pair of windows looked north over Madison Avenue | the breakfast room looks out on to a small patio:

command a viewfaceoverlookfront.

both visitors looked shocked

seemseem to beappearappear to behave the appearance/air of beinggive the impression of beinggive every appearance/indication of beinglook to bepresent as beingstrike someone as being.

Another alternative to saying someone looked confused, stunned, frightened, happy etc is to show through their physical responses.

So if someone one looked stressed you can use one or more of the following actions:

Rigid muscles
A clenched jaw
Tendons standing out
A quick, hurried walk
Accelerated speech
Barking orders at people
Eyes that dart from one thing to another
Becoming quick-tempered
Using a strong, businesslike handshake
Constant motion
Speaking in a rushed tone
Rolling the neck and shoulders
Shaking out the hands and arms
Rubbing the neck
Running the hands through the hair
Arriving late to meetings and appointments
Leaning forward with a stiff neck
Approaching mundane tasks mechanically and efficiently
Driving offensively or thoughtlessly
Listening to loud, angry music
Grinding the teeth
Gum-chewing, knuckle-popping, and other stress relief gestures
Bursting into tears
Skipping meals

If a character looked frightened you could show it through some of these actions:

Face turning ashen, white, pallid
Hair lifting on the nape and arms
Body odor, cold sweats
Clammy hands
Trembling lips and chin
Tendons standing out in the neck, a visible pulse
Elbows pressing into the sides, making one’s body as small as possible
Freezing, feeling rooted to the spot
Rapid blinking
Tight shoulders
Staring but not seeing, eyes shut or crying
Hands jammed into armpits or self-hugging
Breath bursting in and out
Leg muscles tightening, the body ready to run
Looking all around, especially behind
A shrill voice

Excerpts From: Puglisi, Becca. “The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.




Noun: look

have a look at this report

glanceobservationviewexaminationstudyinspectionscansurveysightpeeppeekglimpsegazestare, regard, gapeogleinformal eyefulganderlook-seeonce-oversquintrecce, shuftidekkobutcher’s

Related words: gape, gaze, glare, leer, ogle, stare, side-glance, squint
the puzzled look on her face turned to one of irritation

expressionmien, countenance, visage

Related words: frown, grimace, pout, scowl, grin, smile, aspect, bearing, demeanour, manner, presence



he had a shifty look about him | the kitchen has that rustic look Mary’s so fond of

appearanceairaspectbearingcastmannermiendemeanourfeaturessemblance, resemblance, guisefacadeimpressioneffectatmospheremoodqualityambiencefeelingflavour.

the latest look for this season is lean and elegant


5. the look of  business man:

aspect, dress, figure, garb, mien, presence

Related words: air, attitude, bearing, behavior, comportment, demeanour, manner, poise, pose, posture, stance, complexion, features, habit, visage, colouring


 look after: I had to look after my brother after his accident

take care ofcare forattend totendmindminister totake charge ofsuperviseprotectguardkeep an eye onkeep safebe responsible forwatchsit withnursebabysitchildmind.

look back on: I look back on my early teenage years with some amazement

reflect onthink aboutrememberrecallbring to mindmuse onbrood onponder onreminisce aboutbe nostalgic abouthark back to.

look down on: my mother had social pretensions and looked down on most of our neighbours

disdainscornhold in disdainregard with contempttreat with contemptsneer atspurnshundisparagepooh-poohdespiseinformal look down one’s nose atturn up one’s nose at.

look for: she looked for her comb, but couldn’t find it | police are looking for two suspects:

 search forhunt forseeklook about/around/round forcast about/around/round fortry to findtry to track downforage forscout outquest for/after. 

Jeremiah and Ezekiel looked for the day when God would forge a new covenant with menanticipateexpectawaitcount onreckon onwatch forhope forlook forward tocontemplateprepare forenvisage.

look forward to: I was looking forward to seeing Ted

await with pleasureanticipatewait forbe unable to wait forcount the daysuntillong forhope forinformal lick one’s lips over. 

look into: the authorities promised to look into the complaints

investigateexploreresearchenquire aboutmake enquiries aboutfind out aboutask questions aboutask aboutprobesearch intogo intodelve intodig intoexaminestudyscrutinizecheckanalysefollow upcheck up onpore overtake stock ofvetaudit, check out.

look like: in his overcoat he looks like an undertaker

resemblebear a resemblance tolook similar tohave a look ofhave the appearance ofremind one ofput one in mind ofmake one think ofbe the image ofechohave (all) the hallmarks ofsimulatetake afterinformal be the spitting image ofbe the spit ofbe a dead ringer forfavour.

look on/upon: people he looked on as friends took advantage of him

regardconsiderthink ofdeemjudgecountseeviewtakereckonbelieve to be.

look out: you’ll be trampled on if you don’t look out

bewarewatch outbe on (one’s) guardbe alertbe warybe vigilantbe carefulbe cautiouspay attentiontake heedheedkeep one’s eyes openkeep one’s eyes peeled/skinnedkeep an eye outbe on the qui vive.

look something over: he looked over the reports from the engineer:

 inspectexaminecheckmonitorread throughlook throughscanrun throughcast an eye overleaf throughflick throughflip throughbrowsegive something/someone a/the once-overtake stock ofviewperuse, take a dekko at, check out, eyeball.

look right through someone: the woman, once so friendly, now looked right through her

snubignoreslightspurnshundisdainlook pastturn one’s back ongive someone the cold shouldercold-shoulderfreeze outsteer clear ofBrit. send to Coventry give someone the brush-offcutcut deadknock backgive someone the go-byBrit. informal blank.

look to: 

we must look to the future:

considergive thought tothink aboutturn one’s thoughts totake heed ofpay attention toattend tomindheed.

they got themselves into trouble and now look to the government for help

turn toresort tohave recourse tofall back onavail oneself ofmake use of.

look up: things are looking up for opera these days:

 improveshow improvementget betterpick upadvancedevelopcome along/onprogressmake progressmake headwayshape upperk uprallytake a turn for the better.

look someone up: Moira said you were going up to Leeds to look up some old friends

visitpay a visit tocall ongo to seelook in onN. Amer. visit withgo seeinformal drop in on.

look up to: Jerry looked up to me

admirehave a high opinion ofthink highly ofhold in high regardregard highlyrate highlyrespect, hold in esteemesteemvaluehonourreverevenerateidolizeworshiphero-worshipadulateput on a pedestallionize. 



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