We investigated whether emotions are activated during comprehension of emotion words. In the first part of the study, an experiment was conducted in which participants read sentence pairs each describing an emotional state and then engaged in a judgment task. Sentences were paired to either match or mismatch in emotion (happy, sad, or angry). We predicted that the sentences that mismatch in emotion produced longer reaction times than those where the emotion was the same, and that shifts between negative emotions had less of an impact. In the second part of the study, we calculated the frequency of first-order co-occurrences of nouns and adjectives related to happy, sad, and angry emotional states. This analysis demonstrated emotion words are more often accompanied by similar emotion words. Match and mismatch of emotion explained RTs as did statistical linguistic frequencies of the words. The combination of these two studies contributes to a growing body of research that supports the importance of both symbolic and perceptual processing of emotion.