Here is a list of speech verbs for your enjoyment, now with brief definitions, linking back to this article for tips on use:

Address – talk formally to

Admit – confess to be true

Advise – offer suggestions/recommend

Agree – give consent/concur

Analyse – examine intellectually

Announce – publicly declare

Answer – respond to a question

Appeal – make a serious request

Argue – disagree

Articulate – put into words

Ask – make a request

Assure – to dispel doubts

Babble – speak rapidly/incomprehensibly

Bark – talk roughly/shout

Bawl – shout noisily

Beg – plead/make a humiliating request

Bellow – shout forcefully

Bemoan – complain in specific reference to something

Blabber – talk unreservedly/tactlessly

Blather – talk a lot with little sense

Bleat – reveal loudly/moan like a sheep

Blubber – talk in sobs

Bluff – misdirect/pretend

Blurt – suddenly reveal/speak out

Bluster – talk aggressively but ineffectually

Boast – talk in a self-aggrandising way

Brag – as above

Breathe – respire/whisper

Cackle – an ugly laugh

Call – garner attention by speaking loudly/clearly

Chant – speak tonally/rhythmically 

Chatter – talk trivially

Check – confirm information

Cheer – shout in encouragement/support/joy

Chime – be in agreement/harmonising

Chirp – talked tunefully, like a bird

Chirrup – as above

Chortle – a gleeful laugh

Chuckle – as above

Clarify – make understood

Cluck – talk like a chicken

Coax – gradually persuade

Comment – add opinion/react

Complain – state a grievance

Concede – admit to a truth/surrender/give in

Confess – admit a crime/transgression

Confide – share a secret in confidence

Confirm – corroborate a fact

Consent – give permission

Convey – express/illustrate

Coo – talk in pleasant, babyish tones

Correct – put an error right 

Couch – suggest in a specific way

Cough – clear the throat

Critique – criticise in an analytical way

Crow – to exult/boast

Cry – yell/sob/shout

Decide – make a choice/resolution

Declare – announce publicly

Delineate – describe precisely 

Demand – insist upon something

Describe – give an account of

Disagree – express an opposing opinion

Drawl – talk in a sloppy/lazy way

Drone – talk in a monotonous/uninteresting way

Entreat – ask in earnest

Exclaim – suddenly cry out

Expand – talk at further length/in further detail

Explain – make something clear with details

Express – convey something

Falter – speak hesitantly

Forward – make a suggestion/pass a message on

Fuss – make a big deal of something

Giggle – laugh childishly

Goad – annoy/provoke

Groan – talk with complaining intonation

Grumble – complain lowly

Growl – talk aggressively low/threateningly

Grunt – short guttural sound

Hint – give clues to something

Hiss – speak aggressively/sibilantly like a snake

Holler – shout/yell

Hoot – speak with laughter/joy/derision

Howl – cry in pain/cry in hilarity

Hum – speak tunefully

Illustrate – explain with examples

Implore – plead in earnest

Inform – relate new information

Insist – demand forcefully

Interrupt – interject while someone else is talking/something’s happening

Intimate – communicate delicately/indirectly

Intone – talk monotonously

Jabber – talk rapidly, senselessly

Jibber – as above

Judge – form an opinion/conclusion

Laud – praise/exalt

Laugh – convulse reaction to humour

Lecture – talk highhandedly/pompously

Lie – tell an untruth

Maintain – persevere with an opinion or version of events

Mention – refer/allude to something briefly

Mislead – purposefully give the wrong impression

Moan – complain in annoying tones

Mouth – form words silently

Mumble – speak lowly/indistinctly

Murmur – as above

Mutter – speak lowly/indistinctly as if to oneself

Nag – complain continuously and annoyingly

Narrate – tell a story

Observe – point out something based on visual evidence

Offer – present something to someone

Order – command/dictate

Outline – give a brief idea of

Pant – breathe heavily

Parrot – repeat brainlessly

Persuade – convince with reason

Pester – harrass/annoy

Plead – petition earnestly

Prattle – talk foolishly

Preach – talk highhandedly/condescendingly/piously

Proclaim – officially announce

Profess – assert openly

Proffer – propose/offer

Pronounce – declare/speak highly clearly

Purr – talk sensually/like a content cat

Query – question/enquire

Question – interrogate/doubt the veracity of something

Quote – repeat something said by someone else

Ramble – talk in a longwinded manner

Rant – talk in a beligerent, complaining manner 

Recommend – suggest as a good option

Recount – tell the story of something that happened

Rebuff – reject abruptly

Refuse – reject/deny

Rejoin – add another point to the discussion

Remonstrate – protest forcefully/reproachfully

Repeat – say again

Reply – respond to something

Report – give an account of

Respond – reply to something

Retort – respond wittily/standoffishly 

Reveal – relate unknown information

Roar – bellow like a large animal

Sass – talk cheekily/rudely

Say – express in words

Scream – yell high-pitched in pain/fear

Screech – yell ear-piercingly

Scold – tell off

Shout – say in a loud voice, often angrily or to attract attention

Shriek – high-pitched wail

Sing – pronounce words tunefully/rhythmically

Simper – say in a sexual/coquettish way

Sigh – an exhalation of regret

Slur – talk unclearly, with merging words

Snap – respond with sudden anger

Snarl – talk aggressively, in an animalistic way

Snicker – laugh mockingly

Sniff – a haughty, nasal response

Snigger – as snicker

Snivel – sniff pathetically

Sob – cry wholeheartedly

Speak – say something

Spit – say bitterly

Spout – express opinions in an unreflecting way

Sputter – speak hesitantly

Squawk – speak brashly like a large bird

Squeak – speak in a small, high-pitched voice like a small rodent

Squeal – speak high-pitched/exuberantly/in pain

Stammer – talk falteringly

State – express plainly

Stutter – talk falteringly, tripping over words

Submit – present for examination

Suggest – give a recommendation/opinion

Summarise – restate the main points

Summon – call to/invoke

Surmise – make a conclusion/supposition

Table – present an idea

Tattle – inform upon, usual over a triviality

Taunt – provoke mockingly

Tease – lightly provoke mockingly

Tell – inform

Trill – speak high-pitched and quavering

Twitter – talk trivially/like a bird

Urge – advise insistently

Upbraid – rebuke

Vocalise – put into voice/song

Vociferate – complain loudly/strongly

Voice – put into words

Wail – cry sorrowfully

Warble – vocalise quaveringly

Weep – cry deeply and sincerely

Whimper – cry pathetically

Whine – moan annoyingly

Whisper –  speak quietly, without using vocal chords

Whistle – high-pitched noise created by blowing air

Wonder – consider without knowing

Yammer – speak in a loud, repetitive way

Yap – complain like a small, annoying dog

Yell – shout

Yelp – brief, high-pitched expression of pain

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46 thoughts on “Speech verbs List

  1. Pingback: Effectively using speech verbs in Fiction | Wah Wah Zine

    • Thanks Mia, that’s not the function of this list – it’s intended more for writers to have a quick reference list. It would be easier for you to open a dictionary and search yourself if you’re unsure.

  2. Pingback: Dialogue Tags: List to One Side Edition – Horri-Fi

    • Thanks for referencing my list. I’m not sure I can entirely agree with your analysis of speech verbs though. Try pushing out a laugh and simultaneously say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” It’s quite easy. This works with all versions of laughter: chuckling etc. Likewise, run up and down the stairs three times then say, “I’m quite out of breath.” You’ll find you are panting the words. Now, go to the kitchen and cook hot oil until acrid, black smoke comes out. Stand with your head over the pan and say, “call the Fire Brigade!” You’ll find you are coughing the words.

      You are correct about some of the other speech verbs. You can’t frown words, for example.

  3. pry
    ~”Oh come on, tell me the secret!” Alana PRYED (I think that is how you spell it in past tense)
    ~”You take the left gaurd. I got the right gaurds,” the commander INSTRUCTED, cracking his knuckles
    ~”Go clean your room!” Mamma COMMANDED
    P. S. about probbed, I honestly cannot remember why I wrote that. I think I was so desperate to think of something, I created a word….? I honestly don’t know. But these words I know are able to be used in literature.

  4. sing
    ~”Oh darling!” my wife sang
    P. S. sorry I show examples in past tense. It is easier for me to write in that tense

  5. *I am on a roll here!*

    ~”You’re pathetic, and a prince would never love such a lowly servant as you!” her mother SNEERED

  6. Thanks for your examples Billy Bob. You just became my site’s number 1 commenter.

    Still, not sure what you’re doing though. You replied to a comment meant for someone else, not sure if you noticed. Carry on if it makes you happy!

  7. What I was trying to do was give suggestions of b=verbs to add to the list. Sorry if I am being annoying. You can tell me if I need to stop.

  8. Pingback: Speech Verbs | Ilias Stroulias

  9. thanks for the tips. they really helped me write a story. i was always looking for something to replace “said” and “Asked”. really helpful.

    • noun
      a soft, indistinct sound made by a person or group of people speaking quietly or at a distance.
      “his voice was little more than a murmur”
      say something in a low, soft, or indistinct voice.
      “Nina murmured an excuse and hurried away”

  10. Translating a novel, and i’ts being a HUGE help in making it more fluid!. Thank you; btw, I miss the verb “to utter” in your list.

  11. thanks a lot it was very helpful with my argumentative essay because I used a bunch of quotes and my teacher said in class the other to not just use said or stated so this helped a lot. Thanks again!!

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