Edits By Knight

50+ Dialogue Tag Examples with Descriptions

Basic Dialogue Tags

When you do need a tag, these should accompany the bulk of your dialogue:

  • said
  • replied
  • asked
  • answered

Descriptive Dialogue Tags

Note: I’ve grouped these by category, but many of these do double—or triple—duty!

Action/Body Language

  • panted (breathing heavily/irregularly)
  • wheezed (out of breath)
  • gasped (catching of breath, surprise/shock)
  • croaked (tight throat resulting from sleep/thirst, calls to mind a frog)
  • yawned (breathing deeply, tired/bored)

Volume

  • whispered (quiet, purely breath—not engaging the vocal chords)
  • hissed (slightly louder than a whisper, sibilant, negative connotation)
  • murmured (quiet, private, positive or neutral connotation)
  • shouted (loud, full-voiced, emotion depends on context)
  • exclaimed (loud, surprise/shock)
  • bellowed (very loud, deep, alarm/anger, occasionally tongue-in-cheek)
  • screamed (extremely loud, high-pitched, strong fear/anger)

Pace and Tempo

  • drawled (slow, offhand/amused)
  • stammered (caught off-guard, irregular rhythm)
  • stuttered (irregular/halting rhythm)
  • blurted (quickly, without thought, often louder than intended)
  • rambled (slow/irregular, often without thought or logical structure)

Emotion

  • breathed (breathy, quiet awe, love)
  • muttered (quiet, resentful/ashamed)
  • joked (amused)
  • sobbed (loud, sad)
  • roared (loud, angry/alarmed/amused)
  • spluttered (irregular rhythm, surprised/offended/struggling to find words) 

Tone

  • quipped (amused, playful)
  • snapped (quick, angry/offended)
  • taunted (mean-spirited, scornful)
  • scolded (critical)
  • growled (angry, sometimes in a playful manner)
  • mumbled (quiet, ashamed/resentful, often hard to understand/hear)
  • remarked (matter-of-fact, adding in an offhand manner)
  • groaned (low, tired/exasperated)
  • whined (high-pitched, complaining)

Assertion/Informative

  • declared (statement, not expecting a response)
  • announced (generally loud, not expecting a response)
  • insisted (used when another character expresses doubt)
  • explained (providing information/clarity)
  • elaborated/added (giving additional information)

Uncertainty/Questioning

  • guessed (quick, offhand)
  • speculated (thinking out loud, serious/logical)
  • wondered (thinking out loud, casual/offhand)
  • inquired (asking politely)
  • pressed (asking urgently, not for the first time)

Persuasion

  • urged (a persistent attempt to persuade—likely not for the first time)
  • implored (heartfelt appeal)
  • begged (shameless/pitiful)
  • proposed (suggest for the first time)
  • pleaded (appealing to emotion, often somewhat pitiful)

Agreement/Dissent

  • agreed (companionable assent)
  • acknowledged (accepting something as true)
  • objected (strong disagreement, often loud/abrupt)
  • protested (disagreement, somewhat more polite than “objected”)

If  you can’t find what you’re looking for here, this page has a mind-boggling assortment of different tags you can choose from. Though I disagree with a few of them (for instance, I don’t consider “sighed” to be a tag—it’s an action beat), it’s a good place to get some inspiration.

     Be sure to check out my advice on the basics of using dialogue tags, and visit visit my blog’s main page to find more tips and tricks for editors, writers, and freelancers!