Some people sometimes talk to themselves. That does not necessarily mean they are mad or mentally ill. But, interestingly, people don't do that in front of other people, they do that when they think nobody is around, because talking to oneself is considered a sign of madness!

Anyway, the other day I was walking in the street and saw this guy talking to himself; he was ....

What verb should I put in the blank to mean talking to himself?

I just like to maintain that I am looking for a "verb", and that I am aware of the nouns for that kind of action, nouns such as "monologue" and "soliloquy". And, anyway, these two examples seem to mean rather long talking to oneself as in movies and theater, and thus they might not be good nouns for talking to oneself in the street, because such talking might consist in just one single sentence.

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    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 1:51

6 Answers 6


The guy is just thinking out loud. -- TFD

Fig. Saying things that might better remain as private thoughts. (A way of characterizing or introducing one's opinions or thoughts. Also past tense.)

Sue: What are you saying, anyway? Sounds like you're scolding someone.
Bob: Oh, sorry. I was just thinking out loud.

Bob: Now, this goes over here.
Bill: You want me to move that?
Bob: Oh, no. Just thinking out loud.

  • 4
    @Sasan Not always.
    – NVZ
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 20:07
  • 5
    @Sasan +1 "thinking out loud" has no derogatory connotations to me. I've heard brilliant people think out loud. I think it is a way to help concentration.
    – ab2
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 23:56
  • 2
    @Sasan To echo ab2, I'm not aware of scoff or irony attaching to the phrase. I use it about myself if I find I am vocalising when working something out and a colleague thinks I'm talking to them ... 'Ooops no, I was just thinking out loud'.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 10:16
  • 1
    @Sasan "Talking to oneself" as an idiomatic expression may have a connotation of losing one's mind. But "thinking out loud" does not have any negative connotation in my experience. See also: EMINEM's song Talking to Myself: genius.com/Eminem-talkin-2-myself-lyrics
    – NVZ
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 12:08
  • 1
    @Sasan I agree with NVZ: "He is talking to himself" implies "he is out of his mind", or, at the best, no one is listening to him. Father to know-it-all teenager: "I may be just talking to myself, but I want to explain once again the danger of driving without a seat-belt." "Thinking out loud" is much less likely to be interpreted as insane or futile. "Just thinking out loud, the next step in figuring out what dark matter is....." The emphasis is on concentrating and thinking, which someone who has lost his mind doesn't do well.
    – ab2
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 17:11

The answer is in your question.

See soliloquize, defined by merriam webster as

to utter a soliloquy : talk to oneself

  • Does "soliloquize" not have the connotation of talking "at length" to oneself? In that case, is it a good choice for someone talking to oneself in the street. The talk might be just one sentence!
    – Sasan
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 20:04
  • 1
    @Sasan If the verb has to be appropriate to utterance of one sentence, you should specify that in the question. As it is your question included 'soliloquy' as being a noun for 'that kind of action'.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 21:12
  • @Spagirl I edited the question accordingly!
    – Sasan
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 8:02


verb (used without object)
1. to utter words indistinctly or in a low tone, often as if talking to oneself; murmur



Or simply use the verb forms of the nouns in your question:

Monologue -- Wiktionary

(verb) To deliver a monologue.

Powerful parents, in her formulation, feeling themselves autonomous and powerful, give autonomy and power to their children; powerless ones, feeling themselves passive and controlled, in turn exert an excessive control on their children, and monologue at them, instead of having a dialogue with them. - 1989, Oliver Sacks, Seeing Voices

  • 1
    Doesn't "monologue" mean a rather long talk to oneself as in theater for example? I mean, could it be used for a person talking to herself in the street. The talk could be just one sentence!
    – Sasan
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 20:08
  • @Sasan Can be applied in many contexts. Villains in movies often monologue and do the villain speeches. google.com/search?q=villain+monologues
    – NVZ
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 20:10
  • @Sasan Also called tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EvilGloating
    – NVZ
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 20:12
  • 2
    @Sasan If soliloquising and monologuing are not appropriate, perhaps you could edit the question such that it no longer suggests that monologue and soliloquy are appropriate nouns for 'that kind of action'.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 21:14

If the person is attempting to explain or understand something technical, then they may be rubber ducking

UrbDict or C2 and its own site https://rubberduckdebugging.com/

The rubber duck debugging method is as follows:

  1. Beg, borrow, steal, buy, fabricate or otherwise obtain a rubber duck (bathtub variety).

  2. Place rubber duck on desk and inform it you are just going to go over some code with it, if that’s all right.

  3. Explain to the duck what your code is supposed to do, and then go into detail and explain your code line by line.
  4. At some point you will tell the duck what you are doing next and then realise that that is not in fact what you are actually doing. The duck will sit there serenely, happy in the knowledge that it has helped you on your way.

Note: In a pinch a coworker might be able to substitute for the duck, however, it is often preferred to confide mistakes to the duck instead of your coworker.

Original Credit: ~Andy from lists.ethernal.org

Also known as sound boarding

  • That's called sound boarding, and it existed before rubber ducks.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jul 9, 2017 at 21:14

Talking to oneself is also called private speech -- Wikipedia

Private speech is speech spoken to oneself for communication, self-guidance, and self-regulation of behavior.

Although it is audible, it is neither intended for nor directed at others.

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