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

        margaret 

        7 weeks ago

        website is very help full

      • profile image

        potato 

        2 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 

        2 months ago

        this website is the real gucci

      • profile image

        Jacob H 

        2 months ago

        Maybe you could put suggested

      • profile image

        no name 

        2 months ago

        This website is really helpful to me.

      • profile image

        Alyssa Jade Gilliam 

        2 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Grammar Grandma 

        2 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Dora the explorer 

        2 months ago

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

      • profile image

        dis is cool 

        2 months ago

        i bookmarked this and i rate this 11/10

      • profile image

        Tyrone 

        2 months ago

        Thankyou kanye very cool

      • profile image

        James 

        2 months ago

        You just need a list of words that replace said.

      • profile image

        shrek 

        3 months ago

        this is it chief

      • profile image

        Yoda-Wise One 

        3 months ago

        Impressed is me.

      • profile image

        :0 

        3 months ago

        *mind has exploded*

      • profile image

        Julia 

        3 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 

        3 months ago

        this helps me with my assignment thank you

      • profile image

        Crystal 

        3 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 

        3 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 

        3 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Weslie 

        3 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Person 

        3 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Nat 

        3 months ago

        This is so helfpull for writing books!

      • profile image

        gremlyn1 

        3 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 

        4 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. 

        4 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 

        4 months ago

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

      • profile image

        120 

        4 months ago

        ah yes. tis a useful webbysite

      • profile image

        N0R5K1 

        4 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Doug 

        4 months ago

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

      • profile image

        brad 

        4 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Pewdiepie Lover 

        4 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Purple Chan27 

        4 months ago

        It's such a great website! :)

      • profile image

        PERCY JACKSON BETCH 

        4 months ago

        this is good stuff mr or ms author person

        thAnks

      • profile image

        Kind-sir 

        4 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 

        4 months ago

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

      • profile image

        BYE Falisha 

        4 months ago

        Cool stuff dude

      • profile image

        josephina 

        4 months ago

        it helped a lot i recommend it

      • profile image

        Ballshaq 

        4 months ago

        cool

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        hello 

        4 months ago

        awesome

      • profile image

        Reggie 

        5 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 

        5 months ago

        Very helpful!!!!

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

        I highly recommend this app

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        boi 

        5 months ago

        thx soooooo much this will help me tell my report.

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        jennifer 

        5 months ago

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

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        jeff 

        5 months ago

        this helps a lot

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        A fangurl 

        5 months ago

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

      • profile image

        HubPages 

        5 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 :)

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        Human Being 

        6 months ago

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

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        kremit de frog 

        6 months ago

        this really helped me alot

      • profile image

        ??? 

        6 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 

        6 months ago

        Okay website

      • profile image

        Willow 

        6 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 

        7 months ago

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

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        no u 

        7 months ago

        thank u

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        im traser 

        7 months ago

        this helped

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        Said is dead 

        7 months ago

        Very Useful, thank you!

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        it helped a lot 

        7 months ago

        this helped a lot

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        Visitor 

        7 months ago

        Very helpful.

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        the guy who burnt down bill gates house 

        7 months ago

        I personally find this site extremely useful

        Peace out homie

      • profile image

        Ray Pond 

        7 months ago

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        Thanks again!

      • profile image

        a fanfic writer 

        8 months ago

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

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        A confused writer 

        8 months ago

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        8 months ago

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        8 months ago

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        Tracer 

        8 months ago

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        Idk 

        9 months ago

        Amazing

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        Brianna 

        9 months ago

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

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        :D 

        9 months ago

        gr8 words man, thanks

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        9 months ago

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        9 months ago

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        9 months ago

        help me a lot thanks

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        bob 

        9 months ago

        "very good, helped a lot," babbled Bob

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        wonderfulworkoutdotweeblydotcom 

        9 months ago

        Thanks

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        9 months ago

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        Unknown 

        9 months ago

        This helped alot

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        angela 

        9 months ago

        ya it helped alot

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        Good Student 

        9 months ago

        This helps but needs the definitions.

      • profile image

        THICC_QUEEN 

        9 months ago

        This helped me alot thanks to who ever made this site!!!

      • profile image

        Kayla 

        9 months ago

        I'm all about using other words instead of "said" but I restrain from using adverbs too freely. I keep them to a minimum because I think they interrupt the flow and sound lazy. Kind of breaks the number one rule of show, don't tell.

        "I don't know what to do," he said tearfully.

        "Things will get better," she said comfortingly, "Just give it time."

        vs

        "I don't know what to do," he choked, wiping his eyes.

        "Things will get better," she assured, rubbing his shoulder, "Just give it time."

      • profile image

        llama boy 

        9 months ago

        it helped alot thanks

      • profile image

        Boyo 

        9 months ago

        Ya this helps! ths so much! I think i m gonna get an A on this! thx!

      • profile image

        genji 

        9 months ago

        This was great and helped me though my homework

      • profile image

        M8 

        10 months ago

        Helped me a lot!

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        Thiccbaby 

        10 months ago

        this helps

      • profile image

        Deppy 

        10 months ago

        This was so helpful! Im writing an essay that invovles evidence from a text, My teacher kept yelling at me for always using the word "said" since it is "so basic" this website helped lots and helped me manage a A- Thanks!

      • profile image

        gg sy yeet 

        10 months ago

        i like this app on my computer

      • profile image

        AtlasTheSpaceCat 

        10 months ago

        Lol I've been writing to the point where I forgot all my vocab. As soon as I stumbled onto this website and saw these words divided into sections, I was jumping in joy and showing my cat on what I have discovered.

      • profile image

        asian jesus 

        10 months ago

        this website very useful indeed

      • profile image

        Arshdeep 

        10 months ago

        Thank you, this site has helped me on my 8th grade ELA HW. For " UNIQUE SPEAKER TAGS"

      • profile image

        10 months ago

        nice

      • profile image

        Kayleigh Rush 

        10 months ago

        Amazing, helped with my stories!

      • profile image

        Eminem 

        10 months ago

        Lol I love how the comments take up 70% of the website page.

      • profile image

        Bandit 

        11 months ago

        Really good post op!!!!

      • profile image

        Goth 

        11 months ago

        This was really helpful!!

      • profile image

        Jordan 

        11 months ago

        Awesome

      • profile image

        Chris wright 

        11 months ago

        Im writing a story and well I always used the same word until I found this website, this website is amazing.

      • profile image

        dsfsdds 

        11 months ago

        Very useful...

      • profile image

        maddie 

        11 months ago

        cool

      • profile image

        ann onymous 

        11 months ago

        really good

      • profile image

        MysticalBreeze 

        11 months ago

        ``Good morning`` The girl said with a cheerful smile to start the day off with. ``Good morning, Kirumei.`` He glared at the ceiling, avoiding eye contact with Kirumei. ``How are you, Today?`` He questioned her. ``I'm good, What about you, Big brother Kei?`` She replied, smiling like a idiot. ``I'm fine.. I guess.`` He said with a sigh of irritation, getting up. ``Lets get ready for school, Or else we'll be late.`` Kei would say, getting up.

        This is a piece I wrote, Not that bad. Technically you can use 'Said' Sometimes, but it'll get boring and the character wont have any emotions.

        Use this advice wisely.

      • profile image

        Anne Onymous 

        11 months ago

        This website is fantastic!

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