“Look,” [...] said Anna, pointing forward.

At first thought of mutter but mutter implies dissatisfaction or irritation. Then I tried murmur, however, it's more a continous sound so it doesn't fit the sentence very well.

Is there a word for saying something brief with a low voice?

  • 3
    "Sotto voce", perhaps?
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 22 '14 at 3:40
  • murmured could also work
    – dukevin
    Nov 22 '14 at 6:58
  • "Hissed" has the necessary meaning but the tone is rather Enid Blyton.
    – A E
    Nov 22 '14 at 9:47

The word mumble comes to mind.

to utter words in a low confused indistinct manner
(Source: Merriam-Webster)

You could use it this way:

"Look," mumbled Anna, pointing forward.

In comments from Erik, mumbling a single word may seem a bit unnatural. There is an idiom of saying something under one's breath, which is used to indicate something being said very quietly. This idiom is difficult to use in your context, but Erik suggested breathed, which I take to mean the word is mouthed and the sound of the word is pushed out with air from the lungs, but the vocal cords aren't really moving. (The second definition from Merriam-Webster simply puts "voiceless".)

"Look," breathed Anna, pointing forward.

  • In general, I think this would be a good answer. But there is a problem with it in the context of the OP's question, namely that "Look" is such a short utterance that it's hard to conceive of it being mumbled: the speaker has already finished the word before they could even start to mumble. Whispered or mouthed might be a better choice here.
    – Erik Kowal
    Nov 22 '14 at 3:59
  • 1
    @ErikKowal: I agree that a single word utterance would be unnatural to mumble for most people, but I would not discount it from happening. I wasn't sure if "low" was quiet or deep, but a mumble can be either one or both. Perhaps under breath?
    – jxh
    Nov 22 '14 at 4:09
  • 1
    I think that — with a tweak — you are onto something: "Look," breathed Anna, pointing forward.
    – Erik Kowal
    Nov 22 '14 at 6:05
  • I'd switch the order of your suggestions. It seems clear to me that users are upvoting breathed.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 23 '14 at 7:50

To whisper : ( from TFD)

  • to utter with soft low sounds using the breath.
  • "Look", whispered Anna, pointing forward.

If the sound you're looking for is soft then hush could work. Perhaps her partner was chattering away and Anna wanted the person to be quiet. If Anna was tired, bored, or even feeling romantic, then sigh could equally fit. The word look could be said sotto voce in a single long breath, it would have an almost breathless quality to it, in this case, sigh would not be out of place.

“Look,” hushed Anna, pointing forward
“Look,” sighed Anna, pointing forward.

If instead you are looking for a more urgent tone, one that expresses a threat, tension or concern then either hiss or sibilate will do. They both express ways of speaking in a low voice.

“Look,” hissed Anna, pointing forward
“Look,” sibilated Anna, pointing forward

  • I'm having trouble seeing (or hearing) how Look can be said to hush someone. And in 5 decades I've never come across a person who sibilates...anything.
    – pazzo
    Nov 22 '14 at 18:07
  • @CarSmack No, it's not the word, look in itself, but the manner and circumstances in which it is said that leads the reader to understand. As for sibilated it's not common, but it is used. Google books reports about 3,900 hits for she sibilated
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 22 '14 at 23:56

The word you are looking for is

"Look," murmured Anna, pointing forward.

  • 2
    murmured is considered and rejected in the OP
    – pazzo
    Nov 22 '14 at 18:08

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