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Is there an English word that means "to speak in a manner intended to comfort or reassure"? For example:

"Oh, honey, what's wrong?" her mother ____ed.

I keep wanting to say it is "croon", but Wiktionary insists that "croon" means "sing", and Thesaurus.com seems to agree based on what it considers acceptable synonyms.

"Cosset" is also in the neighborhood, but doesn't seem to imply speaking. "Console" is even closer, but doesn't really fit asking a question in such manner a la the above example.

(An answer with references that agrees with my intuition and can demonstrate that my sources are wrong is also acceptable.)

Edit: To clarify, an ideal answer would be a word that describes tone, such as "shout", "whisper", "hiss", etc., rather than a word that describes intent such as "placate", "assuage", etc. (the latter of which would otherwise be good answers).

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    I think you're looking for "cooed" - often used in this sense.
    – Oldbag
    Jan 2, 2020 at 4:16
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    "solaced", "soothed"...?
    – Justin
    Jan 2, 2020 at 4:20
  • @Oldbag No way. See the meaning and usage.
    – Kris
    Jan 2, 2020 at 12:31
  • Nothing wrong with comforted -- I would myself prefer that word. Look it up. Good Luck.
    – Kris
    Jan 2, 2020 at 12:32
  • @Kris - Sorry but, I can vaguely remember multiple instances from children's books and poetry - from when I was little. I'm on my way to work now, but maybe a kind soul with good references will help me out?
    – Oldbag
    Jan 2, 2020 at 12:37

5 Answers 5

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Soothed

to bring comfort, solace, or reassurance to

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Something like

"Oh, honey, what's wrong?" her mother asked gently.

could also get your message across quite nicely.

I agree with one of the comments above that "cooed" could also work. If you look at the definition from the Oxford Dictionary (https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/american_english/coo), it fits with what you are trying to convey. That is, the mother speaking with a soft (and comforting) tone.

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Coo

(Suggested by Oldbag.)

  1. To make a soft murmuring sound, as a pigeon.
  2. To speak in an admiring fashion, to be enthusiastic about.

The first definition is plausible, at least. The second is a bit off. Still, this may be the closest I've found so far.

Chirr

To make the prolonged trilling sound of an insect.

Well, sort-of plausible.


More ideas in line with Justin's answer:

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Maybe try:

"Oh, honey, what's wrong?" her mother lissed.

Seems to be a bit antiquated though, but it seems onomatopoeic enough and also fits the meaning.

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  • I had to look up the word en.wiktionary.org/wiki/liss#English. It's not a bit antiquated, it's proper obsolete. Lexico (formerly Oxford Online Dictionaries) doesn't list it. If I heard that being uttered I would think the verb was lisped.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 17, 2022 at 19:02
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ENCOURAGINGLY

adverb. /ɪnˈkʌrɪdʒɪŋli/ /ɪnˈkɜːrɪdʒɪŋli/ ​in a way that gives somebody support, courage or hope.

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    Where's the definition taken from? Jun 17, 2022 at 14:37
  • Again, this does not fit OP's frame '"Oh, honey, what's wrong?" her mother ____ed.' Jun 17, 2022 at 15:19

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