Alternatives for ‘said’

Whenever possible, use SAID. Whenever possible, make the dialogue do the work and provide enough context (e.g. with gestures) to make things clear. Alternatives for said are best used for situations where the reader needs to be told something that can’t be shown otherwise.

Alternatives that describe emotional states

Anger or pain

  • Argued: express opposite views, typically in a heated or angry way
  • Barked: abrupt and aggressively
  • Bellowed: loud, in pain or anger
  • Boomed: deep, loud, angry
  • Exploded: bursting, violently, rapid
  • Fumed: great anger
  • Growled: low grating voice, hostile, angry, harsh rumbling sound
  • Hissed: sharp, sibilant, disapproval
  • Ranted: loud, lengthy, angry
  • Retorted: in answer to a remark, sharp, angry, witty, insulting
  • Roared: full deep prolonged, loud
  • Rumbled: continuous, deep, resonant
  • Scolded: rebuke angrily Shot: quick abrupt
  • Snapped: sudden, sharp
  • Snarled: angry
  • Threatened: hostile, promising trouble
  • Thundered: loud, forceful, angry, critical
  • Warned: expect danger, cautionary

Sadness or pain

  • Bawled: loud, while crying
  • Blubbered: while crying noisily
  • Cried: loud, sadness/disbelief, in pain
  • Howled: in pain
  • Shrieked: high pitch, piercing, terror or pain or excitement
  • Sobbed: noisily, loud, convulsive gasps, crying
  • Wailed: prolonged high pitch, sorrowful

Fearful or nervously

  • Begged: humbly ask for something, usually in an intense emotional state
  • Babbled: rapid, incoherent
  • Bristled: angrily, defensively, indicates fear or anger
  • Cautioned: in warning, more protective than ‘ warned’
  • Croaked: deep, hoarse
  • Gulped: speak while swallowing
  • Screeched: loud, harsh, piercing, squaling, rapid
  • Sputtered: soft explosive or spitting sounds
  • Stammered: involuntary pauses, repeat initial letters
  • Whimpered: feeble, fear/pain/misery
  • Yammered: loud, repetitive,
  • Yelped: brief, high pitch


  • Assured: confidently
  • Cheered: joyful, encouraging
  • Crowed: prideful, triumphant, gloating
  • Raved: incoherent, delirious or enthusiastic
  • Scoffed: mocking, scornful
  • Sneered: mocking, contempt, smiling
  • Snorted: indignation, derision
  • Squealed: delight, high pitch
  • Teased: make fun of, playful

Unintentional, involuntary, reluctantly

  • Admitted: confession of truth, often reluctant
  • Blurted out: unintentionally spoken
  • Confessed: admitting to a wrongdoing, reluctant
  • Grumbled: complaining, low rumbling
  • Whined: high pitch complaint, feebly

Alternatives that describe intent/thought

  • Demanded: authoritatively, requiring
  • Explained: justify, excuse or clarify something
  • Guessed: show thought, unsure of self
  • Joked: flippantly, in good fun
  • Lied: knowingly untruthful
  • Mused: absorbed in thought, speak to self out loud
  • Protested: opposition, firm, emphatically
  • Stressed: emphasizing, strong opinion
  • Urged: persistently, persuasively, encouraging
  • Vowed: makes a heavy promise, solemn

Alternatives to do with breath or simultaneous sounds

  • Chanted: sing-song tone, loud, often in unison with others
  • Gasped: talk while catching one’s breath
  • Giggled: speak while giggling
  • Groaned: speak while groaning
  • Grunted: low, guttural, short, inarticulate, expresses effort
  • Moaned: in suffering or pleasure
  • Mouthed: allow to lipread without use of voice
  • Mumbled: quiet, indistinct, often while eating
  • Murmured: low, indistinct, one continuous sound
  • Panted: quick breaths, exertion/excitement
  • Sighed: long deep audible breath, sad relieved or tired
  • Slurred: indistinct, indication of intoxication
  • Wheezed: whistly, rattling, unable to breathe

Alternatives that describe volume more than emotion


  • Called: loud
  • Exclaimed: sudden, loud, in pain or strong emotion
  • Hollered: loud, shouty
  • Screamed: loud, piercing, extreme pain or emotion, high pitch
  • Shouted: loud, strong emotion
  • Yelled: loud, sharp


  • Muttered: low, barely audible,
  • Whispered: low voice, secretive

Alternatives that signal

  • Added: continued speech
  • Announced: format statement of fact
  • Answered: in response to a question
  • Asked: requesting for aid or information
  • Began: announces more speech to come
  • Spoke: neutral
  • Uttered: say aloud, often by someone nobody expected to speak