550 Alternative Words for "Said"

Updated on April 4, 2018
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Since 1994, short stories by AJ Barnett have appeared in magazines, summer specials, international competitions, and available on Kindle.

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Is it your dream, your fantasy to write a bestseller? Do you have a book in your head, but the word "said" keeps getting in the way? If we write, then somewhere along the line we'll run into the word "said," one of the most common dialogue tags. But what is a dialogue tag, you ask?

What Is a Dialogue Tag?

In writing, a dialogue tag is a group of words that follow a line of speech. They provide information about the words between the beginning and end quotation marks such as

  • Who is speaking (i.e. he, she, they, Danny, Lucy)
  • Volume (i.e. shouted, yelled, whispered)
  • Tone (i.e. moaned, babbled, howled)

By using dialogue tags, writers are able to explain to readers the way in which their characters are speaking and the emotions that should be inferred from the inflection of their words.

Other Words for "Said" by Emotion

Repeating "he said, she said," can get annoying, but is it smart to use a different verb? There are abundant words to use instead, yet purists believe you're probably best not using them, since readers pay such little attention to "said" it effectively becomes invisible.

A good practice to follow is that when it’s understandable who is speaking the line of dialogue, you can remove the verb completely. It's surprising how much more professional your work will look if you do. In fact, let's make a rule: if it's obvious who's speaking, don't use anything.

You should only substitute "said" if the line of dialogue needs accentuation or verbalization to convey the way the words are expressed. Gorging your story with alternative words for "said" makes your work look amateurish, so be sure to se alternatives with moderation.

But sometimes you need to indicate who's speaking, and sometimes the word "said" doesn't quite do the job. That being said, if you’re struggling to find that elusive and perfect substitute, here’s a list of words (categorized by emotion) that might help.

Acceptance

Accepted, acknowledged, admitted, affirmed, agreed, assumed, conferred, confessed, confirmed, justified, settled, understood, undertook, verified.

Anger

Accused, barked, bellowed, bossed, carped, censured, condemned, criticized, demanded, fumed, gawped, glowered, growled, grumbled, hissed ordered, raged, remonstrated, reprimanded, retorted, scoffed, scolded, seethed, snapped, snarled, ticked off, told off, upbraided.

Contemplation

Contemplated, mused, pondered.

Conviction

Addressed, advertised, articulated, bragged, commanded, confided, decided, dictated, ended, exacted, finished, informed, made known, maintained, necessitated, pointed out, promised, reassured, remarked, repeated, reported, specified, stated, told.

Desire

Attracted, requested, wanted.

Excitement

Babbled, beamed, blurted, broadcasted, burst, cheered, chortled, chuckled, cried out, crooned, crowed, declared, emitted, exclaimed, giggled, hollered, howled, interjected, jabbered, laughed, praised, preached, presented, proclaimed, professed, promulgated, quaked, ranted, rejoiced, roared, screamed, shouted, shrieked, swore, thundered, trilled, trumpeted, vociferated, wailed, yawped, yelled, yelped, yowled.

Fear

Cautioned, shuddered, trembled, warned.

Generosity

Comforted, consoled, empathized, invited, offered, proffered, released, volunteered.

Persuasion

Advised, alleged, appealed, asserted, assured, avered, avowed, beckoned, begged, beseeched, cajoled, claimed, conceded, concluded, concurred, contended, defended, disposed, encouraged, entreated, held, hinted, implied, implored, importuned, inclined, indicated, insisted, pleaded, postulated, premised, presupposed, protested, stressed, suggested, touted, urged, vouched for, wheedled.

Pride

Chimed in, circulated, disseminated, distributed, expressed, grinned, made public, passed on, publicized, published, put forth, put out, quipped, quizzed, quoted, reckoned that, required, requisitioned, taunted, teased.

Provocation

Exposed, imitated, joked, leered, lied, mimicked, mocked, provoked.

Sadness

Agonized, bawled, blubbered, grieved, groaned, lamented, mewled, mourned, puled, sobbed, wept.

Storytelling

Announced, answered, began, called, commented, continued, denoted, disclosed, divulged, explained, imparted, noted, observed, proposed, rejoined, replied, revealed, shared, solicited, sought, testified, transferred, transmitted, went on.

Uncertainty

Asked, doubted, faltered, fretted, guessed, hesitated, hypothesized, inquired, lilted, quavered, queried, questioned, shrugged, speculated, stammered, stuttered, supposed, trailed off, wondered.

Words That Indicate Sound

Breathed, choked, croaked, drawled, echoed, grunted, keened, moaned, mumbled, murmured, panted, sang, sniffled, sniveled, snorted, spluttered, squeaked, uttered, voiced, whimpered, whined, whispered.

Other Words for "Asked"

When writing an inquisitive character, sometimes the standard "asked" can become a bit stale. Try using these alternatives when you want to add some variety to your dialogue.

Appealed
Begged
Beseeched
Contended
Entreated
Inclined
Insisted
Pleaded
Probed
Prodded
Protested
Cajoled
Stressed
Doubted
Faltered
Guessed
Hesitated
Hypothesized
Inquired
Lilted
Quavered
Queried
Questioned
Wondered

Other Words for "Stated"

Instead of repeatedly using stated to express the way in which a character delivers their words, try using one of these more descriptive alternatives.

Asserted
Concluded
Explained
Noted
Remarked
Reported
Specified
Told

Adverbs and Phrases to Explain How Something Was Said

Okay, so despite the warning, you’ve decided you really need to use one of the words above for "said." In order to make your writing absolutely zing, you might want to go whole hog and add an adverb or a phrase to convey or emphasize exactly how the line of dialogue was said.

An adverb is a word ending in -ly and modifies a verb.

The way it works is you choose whichever word for "said" you fancy from the list above, then add a adverb or phrase after it from the list below. For example, "She promised, with a controlled smile," or "He remarked, with a gloomy sigh." But do not overdo it. Be very careful not to end up sounding amateurish.

List of Adverbs for Dialogue

  • Abruptly, Absently, Acidly, Angrily, Apologetically, Approvingly, Artfully
  • Bemusedly
  • Calmly, Caustically, Cheerfully, Complacently, Crossly
  • Depressingly, Dryly
  • Earnestly, Enthusiastically
  • Gently, Gruffly
  • Happily, Hotly
  • Impatiently, Indulgently, Informed sassily, Innocently, Inquired doubtfully, Irritably
  • Loftily, Loudly
  • Mentally shrugged
  • Naturally, Nodded agreeably, Not wanting to sound pushy, Noncommittally
  • Offhandedly, Optimistically
  • Pleasantly, Politely, Politely smooth, Promised in a motherly/fatherly way, Prompted gently Promptly,
  • Quietly
  • Reflectively, Roughly
  • Sadly, Sympathetically, Sarcastically, Sincerely, Smiled faintly, Smugly, Soberly, Softly, Sparingly, Sternly,
  • Tartly, Tautly, Teased softly, Tightly, Truthfully, Thoughtfully,
  • Uncertainly, Unexpectedly, Urgently
  • Vaguely
  • Went on loyally, Wilfully misunderstood, Without sounding unduly curious, Wryly
  • Xenophobically
  • Yearningly
  • Zealously

List of Phrases for Dialogue

"She said in a..."

Casual tone, chiding tone, courteous manner, curious tone, dry tone, flirtatious way, level tone, level way, perpetually tired voice, rasping tone, small panicky voice, soothing tone, voice soft with affection.

"She said with a..."

Controlled smile, fond look, gloomy sigh, note of relief, sad grimace, sad smile, sense of guilt, sigh of irritation, burgeoning excitement.

"She said with..."

Conviction, determination, fire, firm persistence, gentle remonstrance, graceful simplicity, mock astonishment, pleasure, quiet empathy, simple directness.

Other Phrases to Modify "Said"

  • After a moment's reflection
  • False cheerfulness
  • Friendly fashion
  • In quiet amazement
  • Made the effort to sound reassuring
  • Meaning the words more seriously than they sounded
  • Sounded slightly brittle

Stephen King on Adverbs for Dialogue Attribution

Below is Stephen King's take on the use of adverbs. His advice is to use adverbs very conservatively in order to keep the integrity of your writing intact.

"Someone out there is now accusing me of being tiresome and anal-retentive. I deny it. I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they’re like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day . . . fifty the day after that . . . and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it’s — GASP!! — too late.

I can be a good sport about adverbs, though. Yes I can. With one exception: dialogue attribution. I insist that you use the adverb in dialogue attribution only in the rarest and most special of occasions ... and not even then, if you can avoid it. Just to make sure we all know what we’re talking about, examine these three sentences:

‘Put it down!’ she shouted.
‘Give it back,’ he pleaded, ‘it’s mine.’
‘Don’t be such a fool, Jekyll,’ Utterson said.

In these sentences, shouted, pleaded, and said are verbs of dialogue attribution. Now look at these dubious revisions:

‘Put it down! she shouted menacingly.
‘Give it back,’ he pleaded abjectly, ‘it’s mine.’
‘Don’t be such a fool, Jekyll,’ Utterson said contemptuously.

The three latter sentences are all weaker than the three former ones, and most readers will see why immediately."

— Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft

How to Show Emotion Through Actions Instead of Adverbs

Since the use of adverbs can often make a writer look amateurish, many choose to use actions instead of adverbs to express emotion. Take, for example, the scenario below, in which a man is feeling frustrated and angry upon learning that his girlfriend has been unfaithful. In the first example, adverbs are used. In the second, actions.

"Where were you all night?" he asked.

"I was with someone else," she mumbled nervously.

"Someone else?" he boomed violently. "Someone else?"

or

"Where were you all night?" he asked.

"I was with someone else," she replied with her eyes downcast. She was fiddling with her fingernails.

"Someone else?" he said, slamming the table with his fist. "Someone else?"

It's easy to see that in most exchanges of dialogue, less is more. Let your reader imagine the actions the characters are making and infer the emotions those actions suggest, rather than telling them the emotion outright.

How do you feel about using alternative words for 'said' and descriptive phrases and adverbs?

See results

© 2009 ajbarnett

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    • profile image

      is being a gay nerd really a bad thing tho 

      4 weeks ago

      im technically a girl, yet i identify with "gay nerd" so intensely that one should be frightened

    • profile image

      Tilly 2 

      5 weeks ago

      no O.M.G i`m a girl!

    • profile image

      Tommy Bailey 

      5 months ago

      Your all Gay Nerds and you know it

    • profile image

      Nate 

      5 months ago

      I'd add 'dramatically'.

    • profile image

      wasifa 

      6 months ago

      this helped soo much (in truth i am not very good at dialogue)

    • profile image

      Ani 

      6 months ago

      I don't want to use said in my sentence but I can't think of any other words to replace it. Can you help?

      Here's my sentence, "Oh! Yes, your lipstick," she said hurriedly. I don't want to use said but do I have a choice?

    • profile image

      No need 

      6 months ago

      Very useful. I use this site for my book am writing.

    • profile image

      Trash_Potato_OwO 

      6 months ago

      Very Helpful! I use this website often when writing!

    • profile image

      No name 

      6 months ago

      This has been very helpful.

    • profile image

      poop you 

      6 months ago

      what about said

    • profile image

      yomama 

      7 months ago

      Website is like yomama

    • profile image

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 

      7 months ago

      what about exhaustion

      you forgot that

    • profile image

      The ancient Greek fan 

      8 months ago

      very helpful, My teachers are telling me that they are impressed with my work because of my grammar.

    • profile image

      pasta 

      8 months ago

      I would add mildly to the list

    • profile image

      The man with a plan 

      8 months ago

      this mans plan os to use this can to make a van then use that van to get to tans house

    • profile image

      gjgjh 

      8 months ago

      need definations

    • profile image

      W0lfee 

      8 months ago

      Very good. Bookmarked!

    • profile image

      macho nacho 

      8 months ago

      Ohh yes, good website owlcation is, Hmm? (in Yoda accent)

    • profile image

      potatolover 

      8 months ago

      very useful cause teacher said NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO USE SAID!!!!!!!!! in those exact words

    • profile image

      Plip plop 

      8 months ago

      said is a good word

    • profile image

      ToxicPeaTeminiteAscentRWQFSFASXCFNAFSPINEL 

      8 months ago

      REALLY HELPED MY NARRATIVE FALL INTO PLACE AT EVERY SINGLE POINT! #THx

    • profile image

      meredith monroe 

      8 months ago

      yes it good.

    • profile image

      Jeff 

      8 months ago

      this sight has helped me choose words so I can create my book

    • profile image

      an idiot 

      8 months ago

      very cool and useful I used a lot of them in a story for class

    • profile image

      thin mint 

      8 months ago

      nice website ya have here ;))

    • profile image

      What's a name??? 

      8 months ago

      This was super helpful. I'm in the middle of writing a book and this improves my writing.

    • profile image

      joe 

      8 months ago

      this is good because im doing a big project

    • profile image

      Not here 

      9 months ago

      Very helpful!

    • profile image

      taesha 

      9 months ago

      it was very helpful

    • profile image

      margaret 

      13 months ago

      website is very help full

    • profile image

      potato 

      13 months ago

      this is really helpful in class no one and I mean no one is allowed to use the word SAID

    • profile image

      i want to commit pasta 

      14 months ago

      this website is the real gucci

    • profile image

      Jacob H 

      14 months ago

      Maybe you could put suggested

    • profile image

      no name 

      14 months ago

      This website is really helpful to me.

    • profile image

      Alyssa Jade Gilliam 

      14 months ago

      Very helpful, but the layout is a bit complicated :) definitely using again though!

    • profile image

      Grammar Grandma 

      14 months ago

      There needs to be a comma between hissed and ordered in the "Anger" section. You're welcome!

    • profile image

      Dora the explorer 

      14 months ago

      This is great! now I have to go show my friend boots!

    • profile image

      dis is cool 

      14 months ago

      i bookmarked this and i rate this 11/10

    • profile image

      Tyrone 

      14 months ago

      Thankyou kanye very cool

    • profile image

      James 

      14 months ago

      You just need a list of words that replace said.

    • profile image

      shrek 

      15 months ago

      this is it chief

    • profile image

      Yoda-Wise One 

      15 months ago

      Impressed is me.

    • profile image

      :0 

      15 months ago

      *mind has exploded*

    • profile image

      Julia 

      15 months ago

      My teacher is not allowing the class to use 'dead words' such as said, so I found this very helpful

    • profile image

      no name 

      15 months ago

      this helps me with my assignment thank you

    • profile image

      Crystal 

      15 months ago

      A very useful website. I'm currently working on a fanfic, so using this website will definitely help a lot.

    • profile image

      Brooke Owens 

      15 months ago

      Thank you soooo much! This was so helpfull. See, when I write I always seem to use the same word, like "said" and my writings were just getting boring. This helped me figure out other words to use instead of ones I use all the time. Thank you so, so, much!

    • profile image

      Crystal_Ninja 

      15 months ago

      Amazing website. I'm working on a fanfiction; using this website is EXTREMELY helpful.

    • profile image

      Weslie 

      15 months ago

      What about people that are sly? Creepy? Up to something?

    • profile image

      Person 

      15 months ago

      I thought this was great and helped me a lot:)

    • profile image

      Nat 

      15 months ago

      This is so helfpull for writing books!

    • profile image

      gremlyn1 

      15 months ago

      I am trying to write a book and this website helps a lot with dialog! Thank you soooooo (infinity o's) much!

    • profile image

      confused 

      15 months ago

      I found this website a little confusing though it still helped me once I figured it out.

    • profile image

      You don't need to know my name. 

      16 months ago

      This is so helpful for my writing. Even though im very good at writing. I got the strangest grade ever for this test.......... i got an 12/10 like OMG

    • profile image

      Search the word porn and do it 

      16 months ago

      UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I CANT FIND SAID YOU STUPID THING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      120 

      16 months ago

      ah yes. tis a useful webbysite

    • profile image

      N0R5K1 

      16 months ago

      Thank you this has helped me through my writing so much.

    • profile image

      Doug 

      16 months ago

      Well a major cheat sheet and because of this i got a free a in english

    • profile image

      brad 

      16 months ago

      you helped with a said challenge thanx for the cheat sheet dude

    • profile image

      Pewdiepie Lover 

      16 months ago

      there is so many, I can't pick one!

    • profile image

      Purple Chan27 

      16 months ago

      It's such a great website! :)

    • profile image

      PERCY JACKSON BETCH 

      16 months ago

      this is good stuff mr or ms author person

      thAnks

    • profile image

      Kind-sir 

      16 months ago

      Many thanks... Just glanced through, and I must say, not only did you have a comprehensive list of words, you also group them so well that even I was impressed.

      I knew it after all that I came to the right place... Now I can completely edit my light novel effortlessly.

    • profile image

      Z00LD 

      16 months ago

      awesome! You helped me with my stories I'm making!

    • profile image

      BYE Falisha 

      16 months ago

      Cool stuff dude

    • profile image

      josephina 

      16 months ago

      it helped a lot i recommend it

    • profile image

      Ballshaq 

      16 months ago

      cool

    • profile image

      hello 

      16 months ago

      awesome

    • profile image

      Reggie 

      16 months ago

      I'm currently writing a novel and everytime i sit down to write this is one of the tabs i reliably always have open. This list is so amazingly helpful

    • profile image

      The Guy Who killed XXTENTACION 

      17 months ago

      Very helpful!!!!

      Its very helpful for writing books.etc, and helped me a lot

      I highly recommend this app

    • profile image

      boi 

      17 months ago

      thx soooooo much this will help me tell my report.

    • profile image

      jennifer 

      17 months ago

      this was so helpful for my school essay!! :)

    • profile image

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      17 months ago

      this helps a lot

    • profile image

      A fangurl 

      17 months ago

      This helps so much! (I may or may not be writing a fanfic.)

    • profile image

      HubPages 

      17 months ago

      This was so so so vary helpful, I don't even think I could say thank you enough. It just WOWed me, because of all the absolutely wonderful words. I couldn't believe when my Teacher said she used a (this one, to be specific) website for herself too, but now I do :)

    • profile image

      Human Being 

      18 months ago

      This was extremely helpful for the story I'm writing and I thank you for organizing the website the way you did.

    • profile image

      kremit de frog 

      18 months ago

      this really helped me alot

    • profile image

      ??? 

      18 months ago

      I love writing but I find it hard to express what I mean while not using 'said'. his helped so much!

    • profile image

      Kermit da frog 

      18 months ago

      Okay website

    • profile image

      Willow 

      18 months ago

      "Very helpful, with a great array of words. I wish other websites organised their words like this!" She joyfully reported. "Beats scrolling down a long list for ages, desperately searching for the right word."

      "Are you sure?" Her friend queried. "I prefer just using the word 'said'."

      "Yeah, well that's why you got D in writing you numbskull." She retorted.

    • profile image

      A young writer 

      18 months ago

      I'm fifteen and am attempting to write my own novel. This helped immensely.

    • profile image

      no u 

      18 months ago

      thank u

    • profile image

      im traser 

      18 months ago

      this helped

    • profile image

      Said is dead 

      18 months ago

      Very Useful, thank you!

    • profile image

      it helped a lot 

      19 months ago

      this helped a lot

    • profile image

      Visitor 

      19 months ago

      Very helpful.

    • profile image

      the guy who burnt down bill gates house 

      19 months ago

      I personally find this site extremely useful

      Peace out homie

    • profile image

      Ray Pond 

      19 months ago

      THANK YOU SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH ! ! ! !

      You don't know how helpful this was.

      Thanks again!

    • profile image

      a fanfic writer 

      19 months ago

      Wow! helped me so much in my writing!

      "Wow! I cant even... This is amazing!" I beamed with a cheerful grin.

    • profile image

      A confused writer 

      19 months ago

      This helps a lot, thanks!

    • profile image

      mrmeme 

      19 months ago

      this helped a lot, will be referencing it more

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      20 months ago

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      20 months ago

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      20 months ago

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      20 months ago

      I am writing a book and needed some inspiration. This is a great resource for writers!

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      :D 

      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

      help me a lot thanks

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      bob 

      21 months ago

      "very good, helped a lot," babbled Bob

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