Do you need more synonyms for said?
Dialogue tags should be used as a seasoning and not as the main ingredient in your writing.
Readers have a blind spot for the word said, so you can use it without any concern when you write dialogue.
Stephen King wrote in On Writing, regarding dialogue tags. “The best form of dialogue attribution is said, as in he said, she said, Bill said, Monica said.”
However, there are times when the use of said synonyms helps to convey an extra element of emotion or tone of voice. When you use a descriptive dialogue reporting verb you can avoid the use of adverbs.
I am sure every writer has read this quote about adverbs, again by Stephen King.
“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops.”
When you are writing dialogue, you need to be aware that dialogue tags are the tones of voice of the author and not the characters. So keep them to a minimum.
When only two characters are speaking, it is often possible to avoid using them almost completely.
But when dialogue tag verbs are necessary, think about your choice of vocabulary. Of course, go very easy on your use of adverbs.
Other words for said
There are times when you might want to make a line of dialogue a little more expressive. Perhaps in a novel or short story. Selecting other words for said can help you.
The infographic at the end of this article gives you a full list of 350 words you can use in place of said. There is also a full-text listing with words for said categorised by emotion or association.
Using a one-word reporting verb is a much better alternative than to add an adverb to a dialogue tag.
They are quick and to the point. But they still give a sense of an understandable emotive description.
Here are a few simple examples.
Bad: “I want to go home,” she said sadly.
Better: “I want to go home,” she cried.
Bad: “Where did they find it?” he asked curiously.
Better: “Where did they find it?” he wondered.
Bad: “Why did you do that?” he asked angrily.
Better: “Why did you do that?” he snarled.
Another quick and easy way to find a new synonym is to use an online grammar checker.
For a Grammarly user, you are only one right-click away from a long list of suggested replacements for words to use instead of said.
If you use ProWritingAid, you can get even more help with both simple or contextural choices for said synonyms.
Words for said by emotion
Before we get to the full list of 350 verbs to replace said, here is a quick concise selection.
They are listed by emotions and situations that you might want to use as a quick reference for your characters’ conversations.
Answering or responding
answered, conceded, concurred, explained, replied, responded
Confusion or uncertainty
doubtfully, guessed, hesitated, vacillated
Questioning or curiosity
asked, inquired, puzzled, queried, questioned, quizzed, wondered
bleated, blurted, exclaimed, gasped, sputtered
Sadness or sorrow
bawled, bewailed, blubbered, cried, lamented, sniffled, sobbed, wailed, wept
Provocation or incitement
bragged, gibed, jeered, lied, nagged, provoked
Romance and love
breathed, promised, purred, sighed
Persuasion and inducing
advised, appealed, asserted, begged, beseeched, cajoled, entreated, implored, urged
Happiness and joy
beamed, bubbled, cheered, chirped, chuckled, giggled, grinned, joked, sang, smiled, trilled
Anger and rage
barked, cursed, exploded, fumed, growled, hissed, raged, ranted, roared, scowled, snarled, swore, yelled
Disgust or loathing
cringed, grimaced, groused, grunted, rasped, sniffed, snorted
Fear or anxiety
gulped, prayed, quavered, shrieked, squealed, stuttered, whimpered, whined
admitted, confessed, hesitated, mumbled
350 synonyms for said infographic
Here is the full list of verbs you can use instead of said.
You can use the infographic below for your writing reference. Or you can share it on your blog with your readers.
If you prefer, you can also view the infographic in pdf.
The full-text listing of 350 other dialogue words for said by emotion and association
Feel free to copy and paste these words to replace said for your own use.
The emotion of ANGER
accused, argued, badgered, barked, bellowed, bickered, chastised, chided, clipped, clucked, commanded, complained, corrected, countered, cursed, dared, demanded, disagreed, exploded, fumed, goaded, growled, grumbled, harshed, hissed, hollered, howled, huffed, insulted, interrupted, muttered, objected, ordered, raged, ranted, retaliated, retorted, roared, scoffed, scolded, scowled, screamed, screeched, seethed, shot, shouted, shrilled, snapped, snarled, sneered, spluttered, stormed, swore, taunted, threatened, warned, yelled
The action of ANSWERING
answered, clarified, conceded, concurred, deflected, disputed, explained, interjected, protested, reassured, remarked, replied, responded, stated
The emotion of DISGUST
cringed, grimaced, groused, grunted, mocked, rasped, refused, smirked, sniffed, snorted
The emotion of EMBARRASSMENT
admitted, confessed, hesitated, mumbled
The emotion of FEAR
babbled, croaked, denied, doubted, fretted, groaned, gulped, moaned, panted, prayed, quavered, shrieked, slurred, squeaked, squealed, stammered, stuttered, whimpered, whined, whispered
The emotion of HAPPINESS
approved, beamed, bubbled, burst, cackled, chatted, chattered, cheered, chirped, chortled, chorused, chuckled, complimented, congratulated, cooed, crowed, effused, exulted, forgave, giggled, grinned, gurgled, gushed, hummed, joked, praised, resounded, sang, simpered, smiled, thanked, trilled
The emotion of LOVE or ROMANCE
breathed, expressed, proclaimed, promised, purred, sighed
Words associated with PERSUASION
advised, appealed, asserted, assured, avowed, begged, beseeched, cajoled, claimed, convinced, encouraged, entreated, implored, needled, pleaded, stressed, suggested, urged
Words associated with PROVOCATION
bragged, exasperated, gibed, jested, jeered, joked, lied, mimicked, nagged, provoked, quipped, sassed
The emotion of SADNESS
apologized, bawled, bewailed, blubbered, comforted, consoled, cried, lamented, mumbled, murmured, sighed, sniffled, sobbed, spilled, wailed, wept
The emotion of SURPRISE
bleated, blurted, exclaimed, gasped, marvelled, perplexed, sputtered, yelped
Words associated with QUESTIONS or CURIOSITY
asked, challenged, coaxed, hinted, inquired, pleaded, puzzled, queried, questioned, quizzed, wondered
Words associated with UNCERTAINTY or CONFUSION
cautioned, doubtfully, guessed, hesitated, vacillated
acknowledged, acquiesced, added, addressed, affirmed, agreed, alliterated, announced, articulated, began, bet, boasted, boomed, broke in, called, chimed in, coached, commented, concluded, confided, confirmed, considered, continued, contributed, conversed, deadpanned, decided, declared, defended, demurred, described, disclosed, divulged, drawled, echoed, emphasized, ended, finished, gloated, greeted, hypothesized, imitated, implied, informed, insinuated, insisted, intoned, instructed, jabbered, lectured, lisped, maintained, mentioned, monotoned, mouthed, mused, motioned, nodded, noted, notified, observed, offered, opined, pestered, piped, pointed out, pondered, prattled, pressed, pronounced, proposed, put in, quoted, rambled, rattled on, read, reasoned, recalled, reckoned, recited, recounted, reiterated, related, remembered, reminded, repeated, reported, requested, restated, revealed, rhymed, ridiculed, sibilated, sneezed, snickered, speculated, spoke, started, surmised, sympathized, teased, tempted, tested, testified, theorized, thought aloud, told, uttered, ventured, verified, volunteered, vowed, went on, wheezed, wished, yakked, yapped, yawned
Summary of words other than said
Synonyms can always improve your writing by avoiding repetition.
Finding new words and new ways to say things is one of the pleasures of being a writer. It doesn’t mean that you need to use long, uncommon or complex vocabulary.
There are usually simple alternatives for most words.
Considering other words instead of said is always a good idea. That’s even if said is a word that most people are blind to when reading.
By replacing said with a more active reporting verb, you can quickly add much more descriptive value to your novel or short story.
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