Imagine someone gets hit heavily, or is in excruciating pain; when they try to speak, they sound like they have a sore throat, they are probably cringing.

Mumbling or muttering is speaking with less volume, inaudibly and mostly out of exhaustion. But I am looking for the speech of someone groaning in pain.

What is a word for that?

  • 2
    What's wrong with groaned (a low, mournful sound uttered in pain or grief)? It's a good word. – anongoodnurse Mar 16 '14 at 9:21
  • The use of less traditional report (or even quote) verbs is now well established: He groaned / shrieked that he had broken his leg / He groaned / shrieked "I've broken my leg". – Edwin Ashworth Jul 12 '15 at 22:35

"Laboured" speech might fit your need.


How about croaking?

“No. More,” he croaked, so hoarse he was not certain he had even spoken. (G. R. R. Martin)

  • +1 Croak is particularly good as it's a slang synonym for "dying." – Jack Ryan Mar 18 '14 at 16:42
  • Croak is particularly bad, as it's slang for "dying". – Hot Licks Jul 12 '15 at 21:49

Adding to d'alar'cop's excellent answer:

Struggling to speak

Sputtering It implies ineffectively trying to spit out words.

He tried to speak but the words came sputtering out of him.

Stammering This usually implies stuttering as a speech pathology, but it can also be a natural reaction to severe pain.

After getting shot in the foot, all he could do was stammer in pain, unable to say what happened.

  • 1
    Stammering in pain got 20 hits on Google, including this beaut: Imagine this child smearing blood on the walls with this tumor stammering in pain and the parents do nothing. Social injustice is indoctrination. Sputtering in pain got three pages, one entry being Sputtering in pain, you say, "Banana" Imagine a pain rating scale with the descriptions "...Sputtering (5); Spewing (6); Stammering (7); Squealing (8); Screaming (9); Shrieking (10)" Oy, vey, these people are here to examine English Language and Usage! – anongoodnurse Mar 16 '14 at 9:08
  • @Susan does that mean that "banana" is not your safe word? The question was not how to describe pain, but how to describe talking while in excruciating pain. – David M Mar 16 '14 at 9:28
  • (as you say) hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Good one! Really, if it's not the safe word, it should be!!! (And my pain scale is how the patient is vocalizing their pain. As in, "YOWwwwwww" he squealed.) But thanks for the laugh. :) – anongoodnurse Mar 16 '14 at 9:30
  • @DavidM You seem to have overlooked "swearing" ;) – nxx Mar 16 '14 at 21:33
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    @DavidM I wasn't serious. Just your "stammering in pain" made me think of "swearing in pain" - sometimes they sound much alike. – nxx Mar 16 '14 at 21:58

When someone is in great pain, it is hard to speak. So it comes out like a sharp whisper. So the verb you're looking for is hissed. "I think I broke my leg," he hissed.

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