I feel like there is a word (more specific than conducting) for this, and that I might even have known it at one point. The word, of course, doesn't have to be limited to this one situation with a child and toys, but it seemed to be the easiest way to get across the idea.

She ___ the dolls talking about their day.



  • 'Orchestrate' perhaps comes close, but 'She orchestrated the dolls talking about their day' doesn't work. 'She orchestrated the imaginary conversation.' – Edwin Ashworth Jun 24 '18 at 22:50
  • @EdwinAshworth It's just about the same as "conducting," coming close to fitting the meaning. If a better word doesn't come up I may actually use orchestrate, since it would fit my situation rather well. I'm embarrassed I hadn't thought of that, really. – Flirprum Jun 24 '18 at 22:55
  • According to Collins, 'If you say that someone orchestrates an event or situation, you mean that they carefully organize it in a way that will produce the result that they want.' 'Conduct' isn't normally used in this way except in musical performances; 'conduct an inquiry' merely means 'carry out an inquiry'. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 24 '18 at 23:08
  • 2
    She had the dolls "talking" about their day. – Lambie Jun 24 '18 at 23:26
  • My son used to call it "talking his little people". – John Lawler Jun 25 '18 at 3:05

Voiced can convey the idea of speaking for another.


I suggest that a good word for your sentence is enacted.

Definitions of enact:

Macmillan Dictionary:

    to perform a story or event as a play

American Heritage Dictionary:

    To act (something) out, as on a stage:  enacted the role of Romeo.

… or perhaps playact:

Oxford English Dictionaries:

    • Act in a play.
    • Act (a scene, role, etc.).


    • to take part in theatrical performances especially as a professional
    • to make believe

Note: enact is listed by twice as many dictionaries as list playact.

Other words I looked at and dismissed include “dramatize”, “portray”, “simulate” and “depict”.  If you don’t like the two words I chose, maybe you’ll prefer one of these alternatives; or you can look them up in a thesaurus and get even more synonyms.




3 a : to regulate the activities or course of · directs a staff of over 200 employees

b : to carry out the organizing, energizing, and supervising of · direct a project · directed a call center

c : to train and lead performances of · direct a movie · directing a famous actor

d : to dominate and determine the course of


2 : to point out, prescribe, or determine a course or procedure

The word seems more natural and specific to me than orchestrated or even manipulated.

She assigns roles involving actions and dialogue to the toys and has them play their parts (along with props, costumes, and sets)—just as an actual director would do with actors.

She directed the dolls conversation about their day.


She had the dolls talking about their day.

This word feels best to me. Assuming that the reader understands that the dolls possess no motive force of their own, it implies that she is directing them, conducting them and orchestrating the conversation.

  • +1 for a simple word that solves the problem perfectly. – Global Charm Jun 25 '18 at 21:33

“She was doing some pretend play in which her dolls were talking about their day”.

‘Pretend play’: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/moral-landscapes/201404/is-pretend-play-good-kids

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.