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Blog > Perfecting your Craft – Posted on October 10, 2019

250+ Other Words For "Said" To Supercharge Your Writing

When writing dialogue in a story, the conversation is only half the battle. The other half has to do with the tone, volume, and context of people's words. Yes, most of the time you can just use "he said" and "she said" to indicate dialogue — but sometimes you need some other words for said to help you make a stronger statement!

That's where this post comes in: we've compiled over 250 other words for said to inject action and emotion into your dialogue, so readers will practically hear it ringing in their ears. These words are divided by category to help you find exactly the right option — and don't forget to read our bonus tips on how to tag your dialogue effectively! Now, go forth and jabber, croon, and effuse your way to captivating conversations between characters.

250+ other words for "said"

Neutral/multi-purpose words 🙂

Acknowledged

Added

Agreed

Announced

Articulated

Asserted

Began

Blurted

Called

Commented

Communicated

Conferred

Considered

Contended

Declared

Denoted

Drawled

Emitted

Ended

Enunciated

Expressed

Interjected

Mentioned

Noted

Observed

Orated

Predicted

Pronounced

Quipped

Recited

Reckoned

Related

Remarked

Repeated

Replied

Responded

Shared

Stated

Told

Uttered

Vocalized

Voiced


Happy/excited words 😄

Approved

Babbled

Beamed

Bubbled

Chattered

Cheered

Chimed in

Chortled

Chuckled

Congratulated

Complimented

Crooned

Effused

Exclaimed

Giggled

Grinned

Gushed

Jabbered

Joked

Laughed

Praised

Rejoiced

Sang

Smiled

Thanked

Trilled

Yammered


Sad/upset words 😢

Agonized

Apologized

Bawled

Blubbered

Cried

Fretted

Grieved

Groaned

Lamented

Mewled

Moaned

Mumbled

Sobbed

Sighed

Sniffled

Sniveled

Wailed

Wept


Angry words 😡

Accused

Choked

Badgered

Barked

Bellowed

Chastised

Cursed

Demanded

Exploded

Fumed

Glowered

Growled

Hissed

Insulted

Raged

Ranted

Reprimanded

Roared

Scolded

Screamed

Screeched

Snarled

Shouted

Swore

Thundered

Vociferated

Yelled


Annoyed words 😒

Bleated

Complained

Condemned

Criticized

Groused

Grumbled

Grunted

Mocked

Rasped

Rejoined

Retorted

Scoffed

Smirked

Snapped

Whined


Frightened/pained words 😨

Cautioned

Gulped

Howled

Keened

Panted

Prayed

Quavered

Screamed

Shrieked

Squalled

Squealed

Trembled

Wailed

Warbled

Whimpered

Yelped

Yowled

Warned


Prideful words 😌

Advertised

Bloviated

Boasted

Boomed

Bossed

Bragged

Broadcasted

Crowed

Dictated

Gloated

Ordered

Prattled

Preached

Swaggered

Trumpeted


Words to express uncertainty 😕

Breathed

Doubted

Faltered

Hesitated

Lilted

Mumbled

Murmured

Muttered

Shrugged

Squeaked

Stammered

Stuttered

Trailed off

Vacillated

Whispered


Words that make fun 😛

Derided

Jeered

Heckled

Lampooned

Mocked

Mimicked

Parodied

Ridiculed

Satirized

Scorned

Spoofed

Sneered

Snickered

Taunted

Teased


Words that ask a question 🤔

Asked

Begged

Challenged

Contemplated

Guessed

Hinted

Hypothesized

Implied

Inquired

Interrogated

Invited

Mouthed

Mused

Pleaded

Pondered

Probed

Proposed

Puzzled

Repeated

Requested

Requisitioned

Queried

Questioned

Quizzed

Solicited

Speculated

Wondered


Words that give an answer 👍

Accepted

Advised

Affirmed

Alleged

Answered

Assured

Avowed

Claimed

Conceded

Concluded

Confided

Confirmed

Explained

Disclosed

Disseminated

Divulged

Imparted

Informed

Indicated

Maintained

Notified

Offered

Passed on

Proffered

Promised

Promulgated

Released

Reported

Revealed

Shared

Specified

Speculated

Supposed

Testified

Transmitted

Verified


How to use other words for said

Now that your vocabulary has been refreshed, let's talk about how to actually use these words. Here are some tips for implementing other words for "said" into your dialogue!

1. Insert them sparingly

Even though you now have tons of colorful verbs at your disposal, the truth is that you should use unusual dialogue tags very sparingly. For one thing, as we mentioned in the intro, "said" is sufficient most of the time. And for another, you don't always need a tag, especially if you've already established who's speaking!

To see why you shouldn't use too many tags, descriptive or otherwise, take a look at the following dialogue sample:

“What are you doing here?” he demanded.
“What do you think I’m doing here?” she inquired.
“You know this isn’t going to work,” he sneered.
"I think you're underestimating me," she retorted.

The descriptive tags here are clearly overkill — you can easily deduce the tone of the conversation without them. But even using "he said"/"she said" four times in a row would be unnecessary in this case, as it's only two people speaking. A much-improved revision would be to keep just one tag, and identify the second speaker in a more indirect way:

“What are you doing here?” he demanded.
She stepped across the threshold. “What do you think I’m doing here?”
“You know this isn’t going to work."
"I think you're underestimating me."

The reader doesn't need many tags to see that this conversation is between two people. It's only in lengthy conversations of more than two that you may need to use "said" multiple times. And even then, you should still keep your "alternative" tags to a minimum, as they distract from the dialogue itself.

2. Ensure the word fits

Speaking of distractions, nothing is more distracting to readers than when a word just seems "off." This is why, when you do use a descriptive dialogue tag, it needs to fit the situation perfectly.

While this tip might sound obvious, editors can attest that odd verbs in dialogue tags are all too common. For example:

“I never want to see you again!” he exclaimed.

That might seem like a good place to use the word exclaim, since we know it means to say something loudly. However, the underlying connotations of "exclaim" are a bit different — an exclamation is usually a positive shout of surprise, not a negative one. Better tags for the dialogue above might be:

“I never want to see you again!” he bellowed.
“I never want to see you again!” he roared.
“I never want to see you again!” he snarled.

All of these depict the tone more accurately than "exclaimed." And again, you don't even really need such a descriptive tag, as the message here is pretty clear.

But if you do decide to use one, make sure you know what it actually means! This is where our list comes in handy — you know exactly which words are associated with which emotions and scenarios.

3. Break up with action beats

Another strategy to make these unusual tags work is to break them up with action beats, or descriptions of what characters are doing in the scene.

If you're not familiar with action beats, just look back at the revised example from tip #1! "She stepped across the threshold" is an action beat that shows the character's movement as she speaks, to signal that she's the one talking.

An action beat may appear before or after a line of dialogue, or even in the middle — just make sure to punctuate it properly. Here are a few more examples of action beats:

a) Murphy approached the stand and took a deep breath. "The defendant pleads not guilty, Your Honor."


b) "I was just trying," I said through clenched teeth, trying to control my frustration, "to help you out, for once in your miserable life."

c) "When are we going to the beach?" Sophie looked up at her mother expectantly.

Action beats are a useful alternative to bona fide dialogue tags, and a great way to mix up your scenes. That said, as with other dialogue indicators, you want to keep action beats to a minimum. In a typical scene, you might have one extra-descriptive tag and a couple of action beats. The rest should all be "he said"/"she said" and implied speech, to keep the pace moving along nicely.

4. Make "said" more interesting

Finally, one of the best ways to balance your use of alternative tags is to simply use "said" — but make it fashion! By which we mean, if you have the urge to use dynamic tags, redirect that creative energy toward making your "said"s a little more interesting. You might use action beats, as in example b) above, or you might use adjectives and adverbs to spruce things up a little.

Common descriptors to use with "said" include:

  • She said with a smile.
  • He said with a sigh.
  • She said with a laugh.
  • He said as he walked away.
  • She said, shaking her head.
  • He said in an [adjective] way.

Of course, you can replace any of these with more vivid, specific phrases — she said with a grin, he said as he trotted away, etc. And there are plenty more ways to accessorize "said" — he said with a salacious wink, she said as she crossed her arms, he said in a forlorn voice, she said with profound concentration. The possibilities are literally endless!

The same is true of adverbs, like "happily" and "quickly." However, many writers consider adverbs a mark of purple prose, so keep them to a reasonable minimum. You might use an adverb to modify "said" in a particularly dramatic situation ("How could you keep this from me?" she said furiously). But otherwise, verbs and adjectives tend to do the trick.

Infographic (to download)

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other words for "said"

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Takeaways

The only way to really learn what works for dialogue is to practice writing it — but hopefully you have a better idea of how it should work after reading this post.

We hope you enjoyed ALL those tags, and that you take the advice about using them to heart! For now, we must bid you adieu. Or should we phrase it as: "Farewell," we lamented, "until we meet again!"


Which of these other words for "said" is your favorite? Comment, communicate, and confer below!