What is the word that can be used to describe commentary given by a guide during a tour?

For example riding on guided tour of a city where guide tells you about different objects of interests.


Looking for the word or phrase to replace blanks, hopefully this makes the question clearer.

The short and to the point ____ given by guide was welcomed by the tourists.

The guide ____ on every historic item we encountered.

  • Depends on what you want to say. The guide said/says X; This is supposed to be the place where Y, according to the guide; You should never believe the stuff the guide tells you. For instance. Apr 20, 2014 at 2:51
  • I was thinking that there was something more specific to describe narration provided by the guide instead of just Guide told or guide said. Maybe better question or being more precise is there specific word to describe the "act of narrating the tour" or word used for "the narration during the tour" Apr 20, 2014 at 2:59
  • English uses phrases more commonly than special words. You only need a special word when something is very very common in everyday life. Ask a tour guide what they call it. Apr 20, 2014 at 3:05
  • 3
    Is there anything wrong with "commentary"?
    – MrHen
    Apr 28, 2014 at 14:59
  • nothing wrong I was just checking if there is better word that could be used instead of it. Apr 28, 2014 at 18:23

4 Answers 4


The most suitable expression to describe the information which a tourist guide (in the US it's a tour guide) gives is in fact commentary: a series of comments, explanations, or annotations. Wikipedia prefers this term in its Audio tour article. The correct verb form is commentate.

An audio tour or audio guide provides a recorded spoken commentary, normally through a handheld device, to a visitor attraction such as a museum. They are also available for self-guided tours of outdoor locations [...] It provides background, context, and information on the things being viewed

However, as worthy alternatives to commentary and commentate, consider:

  • The short and to the point information given by the guide was welcomed by the tourists
  • The guide explained every historic item we encountered.

Tour guides who work in a stationary setting, such as a museum or landmark, typically conduct several tours a day to different groups of visitors. They must select the most important and interesting information about the subject and present it to the visitors in a simple, yet appealing, way. Often, tour guides must adapt the information to suit the specific visitors.

  • I still think my answer is better and fits in the questioner's blank fields better. The guide gives a talk. Let's ask ourselves 'would the guide or any member of his audience at the time of the tour describe the guide as providing a 'spoken commentary' or 'information'. These phrases are used by a third party reporting on the tour as a detached observer. Let's stick with plain talk--what those participating in the tour would say. They would talk like real people and say 'the guide gave a talk on the early history of the church.'
    – user3847
    Jun 18, 2014 at 21:57
  • @user3847 talk is acceptable, but commentary is the most appropriate expression, because the tour guide has to be prepared to improvise and answer the tourist's questions, and we have the expression a running commentary for sport events, and I can imagine a guide giving a running commentary on the different monuments, exhibits on display etc. A talk sounds prepackaged, less flexible, lengthier and more authoritative. A talk I would accept if the person talking was an expert in the field, tourist guides aren't normally experts, they just have good memories :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 18, 2014 at 22:40
  • The talk given by the guide is certainly prepackaged and so are the answers to the tour members'questions. The guide gives his talk and answers the tourists' questions--the same questions the guide has heard over and over again until the answers have acquired a high polish complete with anecdotes to amuse.
    – user3847
    Jun 18, 2014 at 22:49
  • That's true, I have no qualms with talk I might have suggested it myself if I had seen the question earlier. But... talk is synonymous with presentation and lecture, and commentary with explanation and giving information.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 18, 2014 at 22:57
  • I agree with Mari-Lou, @user3847: I would expect a talk to be given at a podium or lectern, with the audience seated. Commentary, on the other hand, is more flexible (it doesn't even have to be spoken, though in this case it obviously is).
    – Marthaª
    Jun 18, 2014 at 23:01

In the first sentence, I'd use description.

In the second sentence, I'd say "The guide expounded on every historic item."

  • Note that "described" would also work in the second sentence.
    – MrHen
    Apr 28, 2014 at 14:59

There's a phrase called 'giving a talk'--not quite a lecture, it's an informal presentation by one speaker on an academic subject in front of an audience. This seems to fit what the docent does. The docent gives a talk. I've heard this phrase used by a docent at the Bruton Parish Episcopal Church in Williamsburg, Virginia. He said, 'I'll be giving another talk at 2.00 p.m.' 'The short and to the point talk given by the guide was welcomed by the tourists.' 'The guide gave a talk on every historic item we encountered.'


A guide or a docent is :...a title given to persons who serve as guides and educators for the institutions they serve, usually on a voluntary basis. The English word itself is derived from the Latin word docēns, the present active participle of docēre (to teach, to lecture)

A docent teaches and gives insights on their area of specialty and if their lecture or the guide was:

not informative, or laconic: using few words; terse [Princeton Review] using or involving the use of a minimum of words; concise to the point of seeming rude or mysterious brief, to the point, terse

imformative, or replete: re·plete || rɪ'plɪËt adj. brimming, teeming, full; abundant, plentiful; packed, crowded, jammed

  • The question is looking for a noun to name the docent's commentary, not an adjective that describes it. See the blanks in his sentences.
    – Barmar
    Apr 22, 2014 at 12:00

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