Said Replacements



Dialogue Tags
He Said – She Said
SAID REPLACEMENTS


Mostly, in dialogue, I like the words ‘he said’ or ‘she said.’  I like to use them and I like to read them.  ‘Said’ seems to safely repeat on the page-- it’s stealthy and slips by relatively unnoticed. 

But, on those occasions when the tone or meaning cannot be discerned from the dialogue content, and a clarifier is needed or interesting, it’s nice to have some ‘said replacements’ handy— they can reveal character and break up a cluster of said’s on the page.

I keep a running A-Z list of ‘Said Replacements' for dialogue.

To date, it’s 25+ pages and makes for a ridiculously long blog post so I’ve put it onto its own page.   While long for a blogsite, it’s a relatively short list, given that much of the dictionary is essentially available.  There are some quirky options on my list, but they sing to me so I’m including them.  

My favorite dialogue speaks for itself and doesn’t need much extra qualifying.  And, unlike ‘said,’ these other replacement words do NOT disappear on the page.  They can be superfluous and overuse of them, as a device, becomes annoying fast.

Though I include the actual ‘Said Replacements’ sparingly, I find I peruse this list periodically.  Even when I don’t actually use a replacement word, scanning the list reminds me to mine for a fuller range of behavioral, emotional, and conversational options in the delivery of a line and the crafting of a scene.

The list is formatted like this:

A
accused
acknowledged

B
babbled
back pedaled
badgered

Sometimes they replace the word said—
         “You’ll always have employment here,” she apologized.

Other times they appear in the sentence to follow—
         “How very smart of you.”  Her jibe took him by surprise.

Dialogue tags do help keep speakers identifiable.  I really hate struggling through an exchange of dialogue where I can’t tell by the content who is speaking, and I have to go back and count quote marks to guess.

I think if speakers are truly unique and distinguishable, the he said/she said can be minimized, as each can be identified by their exclusive individual voices.  I aspire to that as a writer.

Sometimes, even better than ‘said,’ I like an action in alignment with the dialogue—
“Never again.”  He removed his ring. 

Or perhaps, more interesting, an action contrary to the dialogue—
         “Marriage, such bliss.”  She stabbed her knitting needle into his neck.

Kristen Lamb recommends a great reference on her blog warriorwriters.worpress.com - helpful for using action/behavior in place of ‘said.’  It’s called The Emotion Thesaurus, a Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi.  It lists 75 emotions, then provides a nice list of corresponding postures, gestures, behaviors etc. for each one.

Please share any other ‘Said Replacements’ 
that come to mind.
I’m always updating my list 
and I have fun collecting them.


The ridiculously long, and ever expanding list:

A
abided
abbreviated
abridged
abused
accentuated
accepted
accounted for
accused
acknowledged
acquiesced
adapted
added
addressed
adjudicated
alluded to
administered
administrated
admired
admitted
admonished
advised
advocated
affirmed
agreed
alerted
alphabetized
alleged
allied herself
allowed
alluded to
ambushed
analyzed
angered
announced
annoyed
apologized
appealed
appeased
applied
applauded
approved
arbitrated
argued
arranged
articulated
ascribed
asked
assaulted
asserted
assumed
assured
attested
attributed
authenticated
authorized
avoided


B

babbled

backed,
backed off, backed up
back pedaled
backtracked
badgered
baited
bantered
bandied about
barbed
bargained
barked
barraged
bartered
bawled
bayed
battled
beckoned
begged, begged to differ
beguiled
belabored the point
belched
belittled
bellowed
beguiled
bequeathed
berated
bested
bickered
bit
blabbed
blamed
blasphemed
blended
blitzed
blubbered
bluffed
blundered
blurted
blustered
boasted
bolstered
bombarded
booed
boo-hooed
boomed
boosted
bore witness
bragged
branded
braved
brawled
breathed
bridged the gap
bristled
broadcasted
broadsided
broiled
broke them up
broke the silence
broke the spell
brought him around
brought together
browbeat
bulldozed
bulleted
bullied
burned
burst
butchered
buttered up
buzzed

C
cackled
cajoled
called, called out
came out of the closet
came out with
came around
calculated
calmed
campaigned
canvassed
capitulated
carped
castigated
catered to
caterwauled
captivated
cast a spell
categorized
caved
cawed
celebrated
censured
certified
chaffed
challenged
chanced
chanted
characterized
charged
charmed
chastised
chatted
chattered
cheered
chided
chilled
chirped
chit-chat
choked
choreographed
chortled
chose
chronicled
chuckled
circumnavigated
circumvented
cited
clarified
clashed
clowned
clucked
coached
coalesced
coaxed
cogitated
cooled
collided
colored
combatted
comforted
commanded
commended
commiserated
communicated
complained
complemented
composed
compromised
concealed
condensed
concurred
condescended
conducted
confirmed
confounded
connected
consented
contended
convinced
combined
competed
confabulated
conferred
confronted
confounded
confused
congratulated
conjured
consoled
consolidated
contemplated
contended
contradicted
contributed
contrived
converted
corrected
corroborated
coughed
counseled
countered
courted
cowered
crabbed
credited
cried
cringed
criticized
cross-examined
crowed
curried favor with
cursed
curtailed
cushioned
cussed
cut, cut down
cut her off  

D
dallied
danced around
dared
dazzled
debated
decided
deceived
declared
declined
decomposed
decreed
deduced
defamed
defied
deflected
delegated
deliberated
delighted
delivered
demanded
demonstrated
denied
denigrated
denounced
deposed
designated
described
detailed
determined
devised
dictated
differed
digressed
dillydallied
diminished
directed
disagreed
disapproved
disarmed
discomfit
disconnected
discredited
discussed
dismissed
disobey
dispatched
disputed
disregarded
disrupted
dissected
dissented
dissuaded
distorted
distracted
diverted
divulged
documented
dodged
downgraded
downplayed
dragged her feet
dreamed, dreamt
drew out
droned on
drilled
dueled
dumped
dwelled


E
economized
edited
eked out
elaborated
embellished
embroidered
empathized
emphasized
enabled
encouraged
endorsed
engineered
enlightened
elucidated
enrolled
enticed
envisaged
equivocated
escalated
established
estimated
evaded
evangelized
exaggerated
excused herself
exhausted the point
examined
explained, explained away
expounded
extoled

F
fabricated
faced up to
falsified
fancied
fantasized
fawned
feigned
fell down laughing
feuded
fibbed
fictionalized
filibustered
filtered
finagled
finessed
flattered
flaunted
flirted
flitted, flittered
flouted
fluttered
forbid
forecasted
foreshadowed
forced
formulated
foretold
fretted
froze
fudged
fused
fussed

G
gabbed
gagged
gambled
gave evidence
gave her word
gave in
gave thanks
gave wings to
generalized
gibed
giggled
gloated
glorified
glossed over
goaded
gossiped
got the better of
graced
granted
grieved
grilled
griped
groaned
groused
groveled
growled
grumbled
guaranteed
guarded
guessed
guffawed
gurgled
gushed

H
haggled
hallucinated
halted
hammered on
harangued
harassed
hardened
harmonized
harped
hastened
hawked
hazarded a guess
heckled
hedged
heralded
hexed
hissed
hollered
hooked
hot air
hooted
howled
huffed
hummed
humored
hushed
hyped
hypothesized

I
idealized
idled
illuminated
illustrated
imagined
imbued
incanted
incorporated
incriminated
indoctrinated
induced
indulged
inferred
inflicted
influenced
informed
ingratiated
inoculated
inquired
insisted
instigated
instilled
insulted
integrated
intellectualized
intercepted
interrogated
interrupted
intervened
intimated
intimidated
introduced
instructed
invaded
invented
invested
invigorated
invoked

J
jeered
jibed
jinxed
jockeyed
joined in
joked
jousted
judged
juggled
jumbled
justified

K
keened
kidded

L
lamented
lampooned
languished
lashed
laid down the law
laid it out
lashed, lashed out
lauded
laughed
lavished
leached
lead him to believe
leaked
lectured
let slip
libeled
lied
lightened
lingered
lured
lusted

M
made allowances
made excuses
made him see the light
made it known
made much of
made peace
magnified
maintained
managed
mandated
maneuvered
manipulated
marked
massacred
meandered
measured
mediated
meddled
memorialized
memorized
merged
meted out
mewed
meowed
minimized
misapplied
miscalculated
misconstrued
mislead
misdirected
misquoted
misrepresented
misunderstood
mitigated
moaned
mocked
moderated
modified
mollified
moped
moralized
mourned
muddied
mumbled
murmured
mused
muttered

N
nagged
narrated
navigated
needled
negated
negotiated
nit-picked
nipped in the bud
notified

O
obeyed
objected
observed
obsessed
obstructed
obviated
offended
offered
oozed
open fired
opposed
oppressed
opted
orchestrated
ordained
ordered
organized
outbid
outdid
outsmarted
outwit
overflowed
overreached
overruled
overpowered
overstated
overthrew

P
pacified
paid homage
paid tribute
painted a picture
pampered
pandered
panicked
paraphrased
parried
pecked at
penalized
peppered
perjured
persevered
perseverated
persisted
persuaded
pestered
petitioned
philosophized
picked at
pierced
placated
pleaded
pledged
piloted
poked fun
pooh-poohed
pointed out
pontificated
poppycock
posited
postulated
pounced
praised
prattled
prayed
preached
predicated
predicted
prescribed
presented
pressed, pressed on
presumed
pretended
prevailed
prevaricated
previewed
probed
proclaimed
prodded
proffered
professed
promised
prompted
propagated
prognosticated
promised
promulgated
prophesized
proselytized
proved
provoked
puffed
pulled strings
pulled together
pumped for information
punished
purred
pushed
put in order
put it right
put the kibosh on
puzzled

Q
qualified
quarreled
queried
questioned
quibbled
quipped
quizzed
quoted

R
raged
ragged
railed
rallied
rambled
ranted
rated
rationalized
rattle
rearranged
reasoned
reassured
rebuked
reckoned
recollected
recommended
reconciled
recorded
recounted
redirected
reduced
refereed
reflected
refused
refuted
regaled
registered
regrouped
reinforced
reiterated
rehearsed
rejoiced
related
relented
relished
remarked
remembered
reminded
reminisced
reneged
renounced
reordered
reorganized
repeated, verbatim
reported
reprehended
repressed
reprimanded
reproved
reproached
rescued
rest her case
requested
resolved
restored harmony
retorted
retracted
revealed
reveled
reversed
reverted
revised
revitalized
ridiculed
ripped
risked
roared
rode roughshod over
roiled
rose up
roused
rowed
ruled
ruminated

S
Said
saluted
sanctioned
sanctified
sang, sang out
satirized
saved
schemed
scolded
scorned
screamed
screeched
scuttlebutt
seasoned
seconded
seduced
seethed
segued
sermonized
serenaded
settled
shamed
shed light on
shifted
shocked
shot, shot the breeze
shouted
showed her colors
shrieked
shut up
sided with
sidestepped
sifted
sighed
signaled
simpered
simplified
sizzled
skirted
skittered
skulked
slandered
slinging mud
slighted
slithered
slobbered
sloshed
slurred
small talk
smoothed over
snared
snarled
snapped
sneered
snickered
sniggered
sniveled
snooped
snorted
sobbed
softened
soiled
solicited
soothed
sounded, sounded out
speculated
spelled out
spilled
spit
spoofed
sputtered
squabbled
squawked
squeaked
squealed
squirmed
stalled
stammered
startled
staved off
stirred
stonewalled
stood firm 
stood her ground
stormed
stretched the truth
structured
stung
stuttered
substantiated
subverted
sugared, sugar coated
sulked
sullied
summarized
summoned
suppressed
supported
supposed
surmised
suspected
sustained
swaggered
swallowed
swayed
sweetened
sweet talked
swooned
swore
sympathized
synthesize

T
tackled
talked, talked away, talked it up, talked on
tampered
tattled
taunted
teased
tempered
tempted
tested
testified
tilted
tipped the balance
tiptoed
theorized
thundered
thought
thought nothing of
threw a wrench into
throttled
thwarted
tipped, tipped off
tiptoed around
toasted
told him/her
told him in no uncertain terms
took him to task
took off
took offense
took stock of
took the bull by the horns
took the edge off
took the reins
took the temperature
took the wheel
took umbrage
topped
tormented
torpedoed
touched upon
touted
toyed with
traced
traded information
transcended
transitioned
transmitted
transposed
trashed
tread carefully
trilled
triumphed
trivialized
trothed
truckled to
trumped
trumpeted
turned him down
tutored
tweaked
twinkled
twisted
twittered

U
ultimatum
uncovered
underbid
undercut
underestimated
underrated
understated
understood
undid
unearthed
unfolded
unfurled
unified
unleashed
unloaded
unlocked
unmasked
unnerved
unraveled
untangled
upbraided
uncorked
upended
upheld
upped the ante
upset
upturned
urged
uttered

V
vacated
vaccinated
vacillated
validated
valued
vamped
vanquished
varied
venerated
vented
ventured
verbalized
verified
verged
vested
vetoed
vexed
victimized
vilified
vindicated
violated
visualized
vitalized
vivisected
vocalized
volunteered
vomited
voted
vouched
vowed

W

waffled
wagered
wailed
walked on eggshells
wallowed
wandered
warbled
warmed
warned
warranted
wavered
waxed
waylaid
weaseled
weaved
weighed
wept
wheedled
whimpered
whined
whipped
whispered
whistled
whitewashed
wielded
wiled
willed
winged it
wisecracked
wished
withdrew
withered
witnessed
wondered
won him over
wooed
wormed
worshiped
worried
wound up
wrangled
wrapped it up
wrestled

X

Y
yammered
yapped
yawned
yelled
yelped
yielded
yipped
yodeled
yowled

Z
zigzagged 

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