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

Questions & Answers

    © 2009 ajbarnett

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      • profile image

        Tommy Bailey 

        3 months ago

        Your all Gay Nerds and you know it

      • profile image

        Nate 

        3 months ago

        I'd add 'dramatically'.

      • profile image

        wasifa 

        3 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Ani 

        3 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 

        3 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Trash_Potato_OwO 

        4 months ago

        Very Helpful! I use this website often when writing!

      • profile image

        No name 

        4 months ago

        This has been very helpful.

      • profile image

        poop you 

        4 months ago

        what about said

      • profile image

        yomama 

        4 months ago

        Website is like yomama

      • profile image

        NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 

        5 months ago

        what about exhaustion

        you forgot that

      • profile image

        The ancient Greek fan 

        5 months ago

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

      • profile image

        pasta 

        5 months ago

        I would add mildly to the list

      • profile image

        The man with a plan 

        6 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 

        6 months ago

        need definations

      • profile image

        W0lfee 

        6 months ago

        Very good. Bookmarked!

      • profile image

        macho nacho 

        6 months ago

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

      • profile image

        potatolover 

        6 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Plip plop 

        6 months ago

        said is a good word

      • profile image

        ToxicPeaTeminiteAscentRWQFSFASXCFNAFSPINEL 

        6 months ago

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

      • profile image

        meredith monroe 

        6 months ago

        yes it good.

      • profile image

        Jeff 

        6 months ago

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

      • profile image

        an idiot 

        6 months ago

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

      • profile image

        thin mint 

        6 months ago

        nice website ya have here ;))

      • profile image

        What's a name??? 

        6 months ago

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

      • profile image

        joe 

        6 months ago

        this is good because im doing a big project

      • profile image

        Not here 

        6 months ago

        Very helpful!

      • profile image

        taesha 

        6 months ago

        it was very helpful

      • profile image

        margaret 

        11 months ago

        website is very help full

      • profile image

        potato 

        11 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 

        11 months ago

        this website is the real gucci

      • profile image

        Jacob H 

        11 months ago

        Maybe you could put suggested

      • profile image

        no name 

        11 months ago

        This website is really helpful to me.

      • profile image

        Alyssa Jade Gilliam 

        12 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Grammar Grandma 

        12 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Dora the explorer 

        12 months ago

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

      • profile image

        dis is cool 

        12 months ago

        i bookmarked this and i rate this 11/10

      • profile image

        Tyrone 

        12 months ago

        Thankyou kanye very cool

      • profile image

        James 

        12 months ago

        You just need a list of words that replace said.

      • profile image

        shrek 

        12 months ago

        this is it chief

      • profile image

        Yoda-Wise One 

        12 months ago

        Impressed is me.

      • profile image

        :0 

        12 months ago

        *mind has exploded*

      • profile image

        Julia 

        12 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 

        13 months ago

        this helps me with my assignment thank you

      • profile image

        Crystal 

        13 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 

        13 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 

        13 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Weslie 

        13 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Person 

        13 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Nat 

        13 months ago

        This is so helfpull for writing books!

      • profile image

        gremlyn1 

        13 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 

        13 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. 

        13 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 

        13 months ago

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

      • profile image

        120 

        13 months ago

        ah yes. tis a useful webbysite

      • profile image

        N0R5K1 

        13 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Doug 

        13 months ago

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

      • profile image

        brad 

        14 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Pewdiepie Lover 

        14 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Purple Chan27 

        14 months ago

        It's such a great website! :)

      • profile image

        PERCY JACKSON BETCH 

        14 months ago

        this is good stuff mr or ms author person

        thAnks

      • profile image

        Kind-sir 

        14 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 

        14 months ago

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

      • profile image

        BYE Falisha 

        14 months ago

        Cool stuff dude

      • profile image

        josephina 

        14 months ago

        it helped a lot i recommend it

      • profile image

        Ballshaq 

        14 months ago

        cool

      • profile image

        hello 

        14 months ago

        awesome

      • profile image

        Reggie 

        14 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 

        14 months ago

        Very helpful!!!!

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

        I highly recommend this app

      • profile image

        boi 

        15 months ago

        thx soooooo much this will help me tell my report.

      • profile image

        jennifer 

        15 months ago

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

      • profile image

        jeff 

        15 months ago

        this helps a lot

      • profile image

        A fangurl 

        15 months ago

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

      • profile image

        HubPages 

        15 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 

        15 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 

        15 months ago

        this really helped me alot

      • profile image

        ??? 

        15 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 

        16 months ago

        Okay website

      • profile image

        Willow 

        16 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 

        16 months ago

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

      • profile image

        no u 

        16 months ago

        thank u

      • profile image

        im traser 

        16 months ago

        this helped

      • profile image

        Said is dead 

        16 months ago

        Very Useful, thank you!

      • profile image

        it helped a lot 

        16 months ago

        this helped a lot

      • profile image

        Visitor 

        16 months ago

        Very helpful.

      • profile image

        the guy who burnt down bill gates house 

        17 months ago

        I personally find this site extremely useful

        Peace out homie

      • profile image

        Ray Pond 

        17 months ago

        THANK YOU SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH ! ! ! !

        You don't know how helpful this was.

        Thanks again!

      • profile image

        a fanfic writer 

        17 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 

        17 months ago

        This helps a lot, thanks!

      • profile image

        mrmeme 

        17 months ago

        this helped a lot, will be referencing it more

      • profile image

        lol i need this dawg 

        17 months ago

        im writing a cool story and this help me

      • profile image

        Tracer 

        18 months ago

        This helped a lot

      • profile image

        Idk 

        18 months ago

        Amazing

      • profile image

        Brianna 

        18 months ago

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

      • profile image

        :D 

        18 months ago

        gr8 words man, thanks

      • profile image

        yo 

        18 months ago

        yo yo yo this helped alot

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        im already genji 

        18 months ago

        this helped alot

      • profile image

        fortnite 

        19 months ago

        help me a lot thanks

      • profile image

        bob 

        19 months ago

        "very good, helped a lot," babbled Bob

      • profile image

        wonderfulworkoutdotweeblydotcom 

        19 months ago

        Thanks

      • profile image

        hi 

        19 months ago

        yasssssssssss this helped alot

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