Sensory Language Examples

This guide offers readers a horde of sensory language examples.

Sensory language is one of the most powerful tools in a writer’s toolbox. It can be used to create vivid and memorable images in the reader’s mind, and help them feel what it is like to experience an event or object.

The five senses are sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. Sensory language can be used to describe an object or person in a way that appeals to one or more of these senses. For example: “The smell of freshly cut grass filled her nostrils.”

What Is Sensory Language?

The use of sensory language in writing allows writers to create a more vivid and immersive experience for their readers. It also helps writers evoke an emotional response from their readers by describing things that they can see, touch, taste, smell or hear.

It’s a way of describing something in detail to make it more vivid for the reader. It can be used to describe anything from the sound of an ice cream truck’s jingle to the smell of freshly baked bread, or even the feeling of sitting on a cotton ball.

When Should You Use A Sensory Description?

For many writers, the toughest part is knowing when to use a sensory description. As you may have heard, using too many adjectives and adverbs can slow down the flow of the writing. So that leaves writers conscious about when to invest words in describing scenes.

However, there are certain points in a story that warrants a sensory description. For example:

  • When describing a character – using sensory descriptions when describing characters can elevate the impression they give. For instance, saying someone looked homeless is quite bland in comparison to describing how they smell, or how the coarseness of their hands.
  • Describing scenes – this is the most important moment to introduce some sensory description. For instance, if you’re trying to describe a battle scene in a fantasy book, in order to draw readers deeper into that scene, you’re going to have to show them not just how the battlefield looks, but the cries of pain and terror. The smells of the fearful, the dying, the dead. The sensation of hacking another person down with a sword or axe. There are so many details you can include, and all of them take your story to the next level.
  • When linking in memories – the five senses often provoke memories. A smell, for instance, can transport us back years to a particular moment when we first experienced that smell.

These are definitely the key points in a story to introduce some sensory details in your writing, but be aware that it’s not just limited to these instances.

Sensory Language Examples

We know now the importance of using sensory language—it has the ability to elevate your writing to new levels by immersing readers deeper into the tale by creating vivid images in their minds.

To help better your understanding, let’s take a look at some examples of how writers can achieve this on a more practical level—by using sensory words.

Sensory Language #1 – Textures

Textures are a very interesting thing to describe when writing stories, but they can be tricky to do. They’re not something that we instantly go toward, but they’re important. For example, if you like watching true crime documentaries, you may see victims of attacks talk about the coarseness of their attacker’s hands, for example.

Here are some sensory words to help you describe textures:

  • Silky
  • Wet
  • Sticky
  • Smooth
  • Coarse
  • Moist
  • Gritty
  • Soft
  • Hairy
  • Sandy
  • Crumbly
  • Sinewy
  • Gelatinous

Sensory Language #2 – Describing Sounds

Sound is go-to tool when describing things using the 5 senses in writing. Like the other senses, sounds can trigger memories. They can warn us of incoming danger, or they can bring joy to our hearts (like when I’m listening to The Allman Brothers).

Using vivid sensory words can help you elevate your descriptions when it comes to your writing. Here are some examples:

  • Deafening
  • Crunching
  • Whisper
  • Yelp
  • Shriek
  • Hellish
  • Buzz
  • Screech
  • Squeal
  • Sizzle
  • Hiss
  • Howl

Sensory Language #3 – Describing Taste

Taste is a sense that doesn’t get used too often in writing. However, it’s perhaps one of most significant and powerful of all the 5 senses.

We rely on this sense as a source of pleasure from the food and drinks we consume. And we can attach memories and meanings to these tastes. These memories can be quite vivid too.

For example, I still cannot drink vodka and ginger ale after consuming way too much in a nightclub in my university years. I threw up violently at the end of the night and now even the slightest similarity in taste has me baulking.

Have you ever experienced anything like this too? Jot down those memories and use them as a reference for your character creation.

To help you along, here’s a bunch of examples of sensory language and words you can use to help describe taste:

  • Zesty
  • Fragrant
  • Earthy
  • Fresh
  • Tingly
  • Scalding
  • Warmth
  • Bitter
  • Salivatingly good

Sensory Words Infographic

Here’s a cracking little infographic packed with sensory words:

sensory language infographic

More Sensory Language Examples

As we’ve seen above, sensory language is a type of writing that appeals to the five senses. It can be used to create vivid imagery and strong emotional connections between the reader and the text.

This type of language can be used to make a text more memorable, emotionally compelling, or persuasive. Some examples are:

  • “The smell of freshly baked bread fills the air.”
  • “I felt my heart race as I watched her walk down the aisle.”
  • “The feel of cold steel in my hands”
  • “The stench of petrichor after a night of rain”
  • “The coarseness of his hands after a day’s work.”

Learn More About Writing Prose

Below, you can find more guides and resources on writing prose:

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