I'm looking for the word or phrase that could replace "a manner of speaking" in a sentence, as in "He used a halting, hesitant manner of speaking." Not a particular adjective, but name for what those adjectives would be describing...

It could be described as "speech pattern", but that's more technical or analytical in my mind. I'm looking for something more casually observant. I thought maybe "oratory", but that has a bit of a negative connotation, along with its synonym "rhetoric". I'm looking for a more neutral word.

Thanks, folks~

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    His "speech style"? After all, the analogous analysis of written works, which is used to identify authors based only on patterns of usage rather than content, is known as "Stylometry". Or, for rhythm and prosody particularly, his "cadence"? Though I expect that's not holistic enough. Interesting question. – Dan Bron Mar 1 '16 at 17:49
  • I hadn't heard "stylometry" before. Nice. You're correct, though - holistic is a pretty good term for what I'm seeking. I just checked your linked entry, and "linguistic style" is pretty spot on... I think I'll use that for now, at least :-) – Pete Mar 1 '16 at 17:53
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    Consider affect, or maybe demeanor, though both encompass more than just speech. – Rob_Ster Mar 1 '16 at 17:53
  • Yeah, these are close, but I just know there's one particular to speech. – Pete Mar 1 '16 at 17:55
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    Bear in mind that you can avoid the clinical-sounding term "manner of speaking" by recasting "He used a halting, hesitant manner of speaking" as something like "He habitually spoke haltingly [or hesitatingly]." – Sven Yargs Mar 2 '16 at 18:54

Elocution is defined as "a particular style of speaking" (here) and "a person's manner of speaking or reading aloud in public" (here).

Given that both definitions limit application to speaking aloud, it seems to fit your bill. Further, it is more holistic (that is, encompassing) than words like cadence or prosody which relate only to the formal properties of speech.

  • Nice! Nice find. I'll add bounty to give you more recognition, presuming I remember to do so when the question is eligible (feel free to remind me if you want). – Dan Bron Mar 1 '16 at 19:03
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    My first thought was 'locution' - speech as the expression of thought; discourse, conversation. A person's style of speech or manner of expression.(OED). Elocution is more associated with the art of public speaking so far as it regards delivery, pronunciation, tones, and gestures; manner or style of oral delivery. (OED) – Dan Mar 1 '16 at 23:55
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    @Dan, the words are probably so close that in many peoples' idiolects they'd be considered variants of one another. For my money, I prefer elocution for what the OP describes. I don't associate it with the art of public speaking. – GrimGrom Mar 2 '16 at 0:02

'Voice' could be used to describe one's manner of speech, though it would take some setup to ensure the desired meaning, and not the more obvious one, is properly established.


idiolect - the speech habits peculiar to a particular person or idiom - the style of expression in writing, speech, or music that is typical of a particular period, person, or group (please note that 'idiom' has multiple meanings)

  • 'Idiolect' has a lot more to do with vocabulary / register than OP's example sentence 'He used a halting, hesitant manner of speaking.' = 'He used a halting, hesitant _____________________.' – Edwin Ashworth Oct 26 '20 at 19:17

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