After the incident he dwelled on the issues surrounding the incident.

What would be other substitutes to express the idea conveyed by "dwell on?"

I considered "mull over", "ruminate", "moped about", etc., but these terms don't communicate the thinking at length about something negative, a frustrating aspect of the term "dwell on." Some of these are too formal or don't have association with the negative frustrating nature of the event.

  • harp on: to talk or write about to an excessive and tedious degree.
    – user66974
    Dec 17, 2014 at 13:52
  • You could have considered dwelt on as a credible alternative to the question in your title. But you've obviously misunderstood the expression - it means to express one's thoughts at length and/or exclusively on one particular subject (in a speech or discourse involving an audience). That's not at all the same thing as thinking long and hard about something (mull, ruminate, which would normally be a solitary activity). Dec 17, 2014 at 14:01
  • I think it's Unclear what OP is asking for here, since dwell on X, mull X over, and mope about X all mean significantly different things, and it's not obvious to me which of those (or which other) sense OP wants top convey. Dec 17, 2014 at 14:27
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers As well as the definitions you've given; Dwell on/upon, does indeed mean, to think about. It does in my dictionary at least.
    – Joe Dark
    Dec 17, 2014 at 14:41
  • 1
    @JoeBlack Brood is a good alternative. Seethe might work as well, depending on the context.
    – Joe Dark
    Dec 17, 2014 at 14:44

6 Answers 6


Brood would work perfectly with what you're describing because it implies both length and negativity. Merriam Webster defines it this way:

Brood (verb): to think a lot about something in an unhappy way


Check if lingered (over) appeals to you.

After the incident he lingered over the issues surrounding the incident.


Perhaps chewed over

(transitive, adverb) to consider carefully; ruminate on


Also agonize (usually with over)

Undergo great mental anguish through worrying about something

Oxford Dictionaries Online


Cogitated works well here.

  1. to think hard; ponder; meditate:

If that does not express enough negativity then you could use, from BrEng, the verb "obsess" as in, "He obsessed about..."

  1. to worry neurotically or obsessively; brood

A different angle which highlights the insidious aspect, if applicable:

The circumstances surrounding the accident kept creeping up on him/her.


If the negativity is anger - 'to seethe'

Google defines 'to seethe' as:

(of a person) be filled with intense but unexpressed anger. "inwardly he was seething at the slight to his authority"

A more mild term - 'to stew'

Again, Google gives us:

worry about something, especially on one's own.

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