When someone tells you, "Don't worry," or "Cheer up," that's sort of like commanding you, but not really? Is there a verb like "command" that indicates what they're doing, either transitive or intransitive?

He reassured me, "Don't worry."

He consoled me, "Cheer up."

I'm looking for a verb that would work for both.

I originally included "Be well" in my question, but as it has been pointed out to me, "Be well" is more of a nicety that carries no hint at all of an imperative. I would also add "Relax" or "Calm down" to the examples, but as has been pointed out, those can carry some demeaning connotations.

My sample sentence is,

After catching his breath, he admonished(?) them, "Don't worry guys, problem solved."

  • The criteria for an accepted word: I'm looking for a word more specific than "say", softer than "command" (even softer than "admonish", but that's the best I've heard so far), and applicable to both examples above.

  • Words I didn't like, besides those I've mentioned:

    • tell, say: too generic
    • reassure: not applicable to both cases
    • counsel, admonish: as others have indicated, the typical connotations make them less than ideal
  • I did a thesaurus search on command and exhort; seeing the synonyms listed for these two, I realized that I don't recall ever having heard a word that could apply — admittedly, my recall isn't great, but ELU seemed like a good place to turn
  • 1
    Maybe consoling... but in line with commanding but less forceful could be counselling
    – Jim
    Jan 24, 2017 at 16:23
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    'relax' is another similar statement... but tone of voice would be important.. it comes closer to an insult actually
    – Tom22
    Jan 24, 2017 at 18:07
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    What are your objections to "replied" and "said" and "mentioned" or "came back with" or "told them" or "blurted" or "warned" etc.? Is it that you think they are too common in prose? The writing axiom, "Show, don't tell" may apply here. Why would your reader need to be told that the quoted narrative you write is an "admonishment," for instance? The sample phrases you've chosen are basically trivial (and it is clear you are aware of that). So why not trust your reader to recognize them as trivial as well? In my opinion, "said" is better than "intoned" or other literary affectations. Jan 24, 2017 at 18:47
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    (I realize I didn't answer your question of what someone is doing etc.; please forgive my tangent into commenting on writing style.) Jan 24, 2017 at 18:53
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    @MarkHubbard Heh, you nailed it. I am trying for "show don't tell", but yeah, "said" seems a little dry to me. However, I just ran your idea past another writer friend, and she agrees with you. Who am I to argue with my fans? Jan 24, 2017 at 18:54

4 Answers 4


encourage , encouraging, encouragement

Edwin Ashworth mentioned that one example was a form of -encouragement- in comments ... I think it has broad enough meaning to apply to any words that are meant to improve another person's outlook

google definition of encourage

en·cour·age - verb

  • give support, confidence, or hope to (someone).

"we were encouraged by the success of this venture"

synonyms: hearten, cheer, buoy up, uplift, inspire, motivate, spur on, stir, stir up, fire up, stimulate, invigorate, vitalize, revitalize, embolden, fortify, rally; More

  • give support and advice to (someone) so that they will do or continue to do something. "pupils are encouraged to be creative"

synonyms: persuade, coax, urge, press, push, pressure, pressurize, prod, goad, egg on, prompt, influence, sway; informalput ideas into one's head

"she had encouraged him to go"

  • help or stimulate (an activity, state, or view) to develop.

"the intention is to encourage new writing talent"

synonyms: support, back, champion, promote, further, foster, nurture, cultivate, strengthen, stimulate; More


From a native speaker:

Let's not turn a blessing into a curse by taking a figure of speech too literally.

Don't worry is only a suggestion: My hope is that you do not trouble yourself with worry.

Be well is a wish: May you stay in good health.

When people wish each other peace, that is a polite gesture, neither bossy nor a command. They are supporting each other.

  • Good points. I'll add "Calm down" to my question for more clarifications, thank you. Jan 24, 2017 at 18:02
  • @GreatBigBore--Calm down depends on the tone of voice to determine if it is a general supportive comment (like "It's okay, Grandma") or a criticizing command (like "Stop all that, sit still, and keep your mouth shut!") Jan 24, 2017 at 19:52

How about "coax" or "cajole"?

“Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed down-stairs one step at a time.” ― Mark Twain

“Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.” - Martin Luther

" ... there are many people in England, and perhaps elsewhere, who seem to be unable to contemplate military operations for clear political objects, unless they can cajole themselves into the belief that their enemy are utterly and hopelessly vile.” -- Peter de Menddelssohn, in The Age of Churchill


Try Admonish:

  1. a : To indicate duties or obligations to

    b : To express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner (were admonished for being late)

  2. To give friendly earnest advice or encouragement to (admonished them to be careful)

  • 1
    No problem. I usually try not to copy all definitions at once because it makes the formatting weird. I paste them individually so I can format them easier.
    – Hank
    Jan 24, 2017 at 16:34
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    Interesting. To me "admonish" does not suggest friendly advice; it has more of a connotation of scolding.
    – herisson
    Jan 24, 2017 at 16:40
  • @sumelic While i agree that is it's more common usage, that doesn't mean it can't be used differently, given that a definition supports that usage. That being said, the answer may be more beneficial without the 1a and 1b definitions, since they do not really apply.
    – Hank
    Jan 24, 2017 at 16:50
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    IMHO, this is very misleading, even wrong. An admonishment or admonition is a "firm rebuke" WordWeb online. And admonish means (1) "Reprimand"; express disapproval - "He admonished the child for his bad behaviour"; - reprove (2) Admonish or counsel in terms of someone's behaviour - warn, discourage, (3) Warn strongly; put on guard - caution, monish WordWeb online
    – Drew
    Jan 24, 2017 at 17:02

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