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Words to use instead of SAID
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There is nothing wrong with using the word said in written dialogue. Be careful not to treat the word said as a word to be avoided. Well written dialogue should never rely on tags such as the ones below, but should convey its own attitude. When using words instead of said, be sure you utilize them properly. For example, you cannot laugh and talk, or sneeze and talk at the same time. "That is so funny, laughed Bob," should not be used. A person can laugh before or after they speak, but not while they speak. Think about how your character is going to speak and the emotion that they are experiencing. Think it out before you write it down. Let me give you some examples. The following sentence does not use the word said:
"I hate you," spat Bob in disgust. Now think about that sentence. Can a person spit in disgust and speak at the same time?
Watch what happens this time when I use the word said and describe Bob's actions:
"I hate you," said Bob as he clenched his fists. His lips snarled with rage as he stormed out the room, vowing never to return.
Here is another example where the word said works just fine:
"Do have some more gravy, Bob," said Darla, spooning it out herself.
For dialogue to be effective it must appear to be realistic. The person reading your story must believe that your characters actually talk this way. You should use dialogue to reveal insights into characters, set the mood, and even to clarify plot points. I was once told that when writing dialogue, to think of it as action. Use dialogue to make something happen.

You may notice that some words on the list below cannot be used as replacements for said. These words have been added to assist you to enhance your dialogue and make it more descriptive. For example, the word “quietly” cannot be used instead of said, but it can enhance your dialogue.
Ms. Maple covered her lips with her index finger until she had the attention of the entire class. “Let's use our inside voices,” she said quietly.

The words below are classified by emotion to make the list easier to use. Keep in mind that some words could be used in several categories such as “gasped” which could express either fear or surprise.
Words in the list that have hyperlinks can be clicked to display a pop-up box with an example. Be sure to visit the examples page to see the complete list of how to use some of these words. The definitions used in the examples came from dictionary.com. Be sure to use your dictionary for more definitions.

Use the list below carefully and remember that there is nothing wrong with using the word said in dialogue.

The emotion of ANGER   angry face

(adjective) to charge with a fault, offense, or crime.

“Professor Plum murdered Colonel Mustard!” accused Miss Peacock.

arguedasserted badgered 
X badgered:

(verb) to harass or urge persistently; pester; nag.

“Why are you not responding?” She badgered, poking him in the ribs. (submitted by Rhianna H.)

bellowedbickeredchallenged chided 
X chided:

(verb) to express disapproval of; scold; reproach.

“It's not your hair that needs to be brushed, it's your teeth that need it,” chided Mary as she watched her husband in the mirror.

X clipped:

(adjective) having short, sharp vowel sounds and clear pronunciation.

“Flattery will get you nowhere,” he clipped. (submitted by Potato F.)

curseddareddemandeddisagreed exasperated 

(verb) to irritate or provoke high degree; annoy extremely.

“This is the last time I help you,” exasperated Maddison as she sighed heavily. (submitted by Maddy & David)


(verb) to burst forth violently or emotionally, especially with noise, laughter, or violent speech.

“You told me this report was finished last Friday!” exploded Bob. “You haven't even started on it!”

fumed gibed 
Xgibed or jibed:

(verb) to make insulting, taunting, heckling, or jeering remarks.

“Still afraid of the dark, aren't you!” gibed Tom at Sam's cowardice.

X harshly:

(adjective) grim or unpleasantly severe; stern; cruel; austere

“You're a fool, boy!” Randall said harshly. (submitted by Bridgette H.)

provokedquipped raged 
X raged:

(noun) a fit of violent anger.

“Put down my cup!” raged David's dad as he attempted to steal the last of the delicious juice. (submitted by Maddy & David)

ranted retaliated 

(verb) to return like for like, especially evil for evil.

“You are an insignificant fool!” she retaliated. (submitted by Arden G.)

shrilledsnappedsnarledsneered spat 
X spat:

(verb) to engage in a petty quarrel or dispute.

“Sally!” Adam spat, “it's time for bed. Go wash up.” Sally walked tiredly with her eyes almost completely shut, towards the house. (submitted by a student in the 4th grade)

threatenedwarned yelled 
X yelled:

(verb) to cry out or speak with a strong, loud, clear sound; shout.

“Get out of here!” he yelled. “The house is on fire!” (submitted by Amelia W.)

The emotion of FEAR   angry face
babbledbegged blubbered 
X blubbered:

(verb) an act of weeping noisily and without restraint.

With little prompting, she spilled the whole glorious story in its entirety. Exhausted and tearful, she blubbered, “It's all my fault.” (submitted by Holly T.)

whined whispered 

(verb) to talk softly and privately.

“I don't like him,” whispered Bob. (submitted by Julie D.)

The emotion of DISGUST   disgusted face

(noun) a facial expression, often ugly or contorted, that indicates disapproval, pain, etc.

“Just stitch me up and let's get out of here,” he grimaced, his face vainly trying to conceal the pain. (submitted by Rhianna H.)

grunted mocked 

(verb) to treat with ridicule or contempt.

“Sure you do,” he mocked, rolling his eyes. “You know everything.” (submitted by Tara N.)

The emotion of HAPPINESS   happy face
approvedbeamedbubbled cackled 
X cackled:

(verb) to laugh in a shrill, broken manner.

“You'll never escape!” she cackled. (submitted by Rhianna H.)

chatteredcheered chirped 
X chirped:

(verb) to say something in a lively and cheerful way.

“Come sit down,” she chirped, as she scooted over, leaving me a seat. (submitted by Tatum P.)

chorusedchuckled complimented 

(verb) an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration.

“You look nice today,” complimented Ben. (submitted by Nathaniel F.)

crowed effused 

(verb) to talk in an unrestrained, excited manner.

“You look so radiant, so stunning, so fabulous in that dress, that I, I, I, just don't know what to say,” effused Alice.


(verb) to inspire with courage or confidence.

“Do it.” he encouraged. (submitted by Alysha B.)


(verb) to show or feel a lively or triumphant joy; rejoice exceedingly; be highly elated or jubilant.

He hurled the ball as hard as he could at the stumps, and to his delight, it clipped the offside of one, and the bail flicked off. “Yes!” he exulted, pumping his fist in the air in delight. (submitted by Chris G.)


(verb) to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.

“It's okay, I know you didn't mean to. Let's be friends again,” Kate forgave. (submitted by Katherine K.)

giggledgurgledgushed hummed 

(verb) an inarticulate sound uttered in contemplation, hesitation, dissatisfaction, doubt, etc.

“Shall we leave?” He asked. “Yes,” she hummed, grabbing his hand. (submitted by Rhianna H.)

resoundedsang simpered 
X simpered:

(verb) to smile in a silly, self-conscious way.

“I really like Troy,” she said a little bit too loudly. Then she noticed him looking at her, and simpered.

The emotion of SADNESS   sad face
sniffled sobbed 
X sobbed:

(verb) to weep with a convulsive catching of the breath.

“I'm sorry,” he sobbed. “It was my job to protect you and now you're dead.” (submitted by McKenna Y.)


(verb) to divulge, disclose, or tell.

“Did he confess?” “Yes, under duress, he spilled the whole story.” (submitted by Holly T.)

The emotion of SURPRISE   surprise face
bleatedblurtedburst outcoughed exclaimed 

(verb) to cry out or speak suddenly and vehemently, as in surprise, strong emotion, or protest.

“I made the team!” Lizzy exclaimed. (submitted by Helenaluciana M)

gasped marveled 
X marveled (U.S. spelling) marveled (U.K. spelling):

(noun) something that causes wonder, admiration, or astonishment.

“You saved my life,” marveled Amy. (submitted by Alison S.)


(adjective) bewildered; puzzled.

“I don't understand,” she said perplexed. (submitted by Elvey T.)

X puzzled:

(verb) unable to understand; perplexed or confused.

“Why did you cheat on your math test?” asked my mom as she passed her hand over her face and looked puzzled. (submitted by Cindy P.)

Words associated with questions or curiosity   question face
X cautioned:

(verb) To give warning to; advise or urge to take heed.

“Are you sure about this?” cautioned Mary.

X cautioned:

(noun) a demand to explain, justify, etc.

“Why are you always blaming me?” challenged Andy.

X coaxed:

(verb) to attempt to influence by gentle persuasion, flattery, etc.; cajole:

“You do want to grow up to be big boy don’t you?” coaxed the toddler's mother as she tried to feed him some beets.

X hinted:

(noun) an indirect, covert, or helpful suggestion; clue:

“You do think I look pretty in this dress don't you?” hinted Amy as she winked mischievously at Bill.

X pleaded:

(verb) to appeal or entreat earnestly:

“Won't you please stay for dinner?” pleaded Catherine as Nathan headed for the door.

X puzzled:

(verb) unable to understand; perplexed or confused.

“Am I the only one who doesn’t understand that math formula?” puzzled Dan as he raised his hand to ask the teacher a question.

X queried:

(noun) a question; an inquiry.

“You're sure that will work?” queried Jeff.

X quizzed:

(noun) a questioning.

“What are you talking about?” quizzed Alan.

X wondered:

(verb) to think or speculate curiously.

“Did he mean to imply that I broke the window?” wondered Alex.

X worried:

(noun) a cause of uneasiness or anxiety; trouble.

“What will happen if I get caught?” worried Bill as he placed the stolen money in his pocket.

Words not associated with any particular emotion   thoughtful face
acknowledged acquiesced 

(verb) to assent tacitly; submit or comply silently or without protest; agree; consent:

“Okay, okay, I agree with you,” Sam acquiesced.


(adjective) made clear or distinct.

“Please! Do not bring your textbook tomorrow!” Miss Lim articulated. (submitted by Han Y.)

asked assured 

(adjective) to be sure or certain of something; very confident.

“The monsters don't come out during the day,” assured Mack. (submitted by Kayla F.)


(adjective) acknowledged; declared.

“I have not eaten chocolate for over thirty days!” she avowed rather forcefully.

betblurted boasted 
X boasted:

(verb) to be excessively proud, to brag, or be vain.

“Winning the kickball tournament was as easy as pie,” Sean boasted. (submitted by Kayla F.)

breathedbroke inbuggedcajoledcalled
cautionedchimed inclaimedclarified coached 
X coached:

(verb) to give instruction or advice.

He paused, not knowing what to say. “Tell them about your socks,” he coached. (submitted by Neil F.)

coaxed commented 

(verb) to express an opinion or reaction.

“There are a lot more animals here than yesterday,” Robert commented. (submitted by Nathaniel F.)

concededconcluded concurred 

(verb) to accord in opinion; agree.

“Shall we dine?” Alice asked. “Indeed!” Bob concurred. (submitted by Anastasia K.)

confided confirmed 

(adjective) made certain as to truth, accuracy, validity, availability, etc.

“She has a concussion,” the nurse confirmed. (submitted by Alorie F.)


(verb) think carefully about (something), typically before making a decision.

“I wonder,” Billy considered, “whether or not I should try out for percussion.” (submitted by Nathan F.)

continued contributed 

(verb) to give something: i.e. time, information, suggetions, etc.

“I don't know what to do!” Sue cried. “Maybe you could talk to him?” Allen contributed. (submitted by Emilia R.)

convinceddecideddeclared defended 
X defended:

(verb) to support in the face of criticism.

“He didn't mean to,” defended Michael quickly. (submitted by Alexa C.)


(verb) to bend or turn aside; turn from a true course or straight line; swerve.

“Well, at least I don't have a huge forehead!” Elizabeth deflected. (submitted by Jaylin)


(verb) to make objection, especially on the grounds of scruples; take exception; object.

“Sure.” He jumped to his feet. “I'm sorry to have kept you.“ “No, no,” Anne demurred. (submitted by Jennie G.)

inquiredinsistedinterjected intoned 

(verb) to utter with a particular tone or voice modulation, such as singing or chanting

“Don't be concerned,” Lilith gently intoned, “I never meant to insult you.”

notednotifiedobservedoffered opined 

(verb) to hold or express an opinion.

“My brother is a genius,” he opined.

pipedpointed outponderedproclaimedpromised
pronouncedproposedprotestedput inquestioned
X quietly:

(adjective) making little to no noise or sound.

Ms. Maple covered her lips with her index finger until she had the attention of the entire class. “Let's use our inside voices,” she said quietly.


(verb) to question closely.

“What exactly was Humpty Dumpty?” quizzed the teacher after she had read aloud the nursery rhyme.

quoted reasoned 
X reasoned:

(noun) a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action.

“It's impossible to finish by tomorrow,” Ashley reasoned. “Can't we have another day?” (submitted by Sarah S.)

recalledreckoned recounted 

(verb) to give an account of an event or experience.

“No, Mr. Johnson told us that the homework was due on Tuesday,” Sherri recounted, documenting the teachers previous instructions. (submitted by Hannah L.)


(verb) to repeat something you have already said in order to emphasize it.

“For the last time, whales do not eat humans,” reiterated Bob as he wondered how many times he would have to repeat himself.

X sneezed:

(verb) to emit air or breath suddenly, forcibly, and audibly through the nose and mouth by involuntary, spasmodic action.

“I thought you knew I was allergic to daisies.” David scrunched up his face and sneezed. “Please take them out of the room, I can hardly breath.”


(verb) to talk rapidly and somewhat incoherently, as when confused, excited, or embarrassed.

“But, like … when, um, … how?” he spluttered.

X started:

(noun) the first part or beginning segment of anything.

“Well,” started Jill, “I think we should go to the park.” (submitted by Charlotte C.)

stated stressed 
X stressed:

(noun) importance attached to a thing.

“I need it,” he stressed. (submitted by K.J.)

surmised sympathized 

(verb) to be in sympathy or agreement of feeling; share in a feeling.

“I know you didn't mean to do it,” Caroline sympathized.


(verb) to bear witness; give evidence.

“Well your honor, there is no evidence that he stole the diamond,” the lawyer testified. (submitted by Grace R.)

volunteeredvowedwent onwheezed wondered 
X wondered:

(verb) to speculate curiously or be curious about; be curious to know.

“How many times have I written that,” he wondered.


Do you have a word that you think should be added to this list, or a comment?
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To those of you who have e-mailed suggestions to me, I would like to say thank you very much. This page is a success because of you.
Steven P. Wickstrom

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