I am looking for a single word alternative to "whispered". I am already using whispering for emotional, scared or caring dialogue and so the odd time when I try to use it for a neutral (unaffected) whisper it still feels to me like the character is being emotional, scarred or caring which gives of the wrong vibe. The closest I have found is "murmur" but that (to me at least) feels too much like "mumble", and "hiss" is usually used for aggressive whispering. Any suggestions at all?

I could go with something like "he/she said softly/gently/quietly etc" but I'm hoping there's a better alternative?

  • 3
    Murmuring can mean something indistinct, but can also mean something in a low voice as in this context, so it would be fine to use. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/murmur
    – Stuart F
    Oct 27, 2020 at 11:55
  • 1
    "He/she murmured" is fine, in context it will have the in a low voice meaning.
    – nnnnnn
    Oct 28, 2020 at 0:25
  • @Stuart F it looks like this is the answer, please convert your comment and I will accept it. Apologies nnnnnn, Stuart got in first :)
    – FrontEnd
    Oct 28, 2020 at 23:51
  • @FrontEnd This is most common meaning of murmur, which is what I'd tend to assume: 1 : a half-suppressed or muttered complaint : grumbling Jul 26, 2021 at 2:11
  • Whisper used in dialog conveys an intent to communicate, whereas murmur does not, at least to me.
    – DjinTonic
    Jul 26, 2021 at 3:06

3 Answers 3


You're going the wrong way about it.

Use whisper for the neutral whispering—like you just did in your own explanation of what you were asking about—where the most important thing is only the volume of the voice.

Use any of a myriad of other verbs—hiss (anger), gasp (shock or fear), murmur & mutter (uncertain), sigh (exhaustion or caring), purr (arousal), breathe & pant (fear), &c. &c. &c.—to add nuance as needed in places where that shading is more important. Even with words like confide that don't technically involve loudness, some delicacy is implicit in the idea. Where necessary, you can use adverbs for their volume or just add more context: He leaned in and... He felt her warm breath against his neck as she... Making sure El Guapo could not hear, they...


I know that you were looking for a single word but I honestly think that you could try, "said in a hushed/quiet tone," It doesn't seem to have any certain connotation to it or you can try, "She/He/They breathed," but I'm only in high school so you don't have to trust me; I love writing stories and I'm writing one right now, I've used multiple "unique words" (according to Grammarly) just because I was getting tired of using "I said" a thousand times. I really hope that helped! 😁 If it did, comment and let me know!😋

  • Definitely an option but as mentioned I was hoping for a single word equivalent
    – FrontEnd
    Oct 27, 2020 at 23:01

To avoid the eternal "He said - she said" I will go with phrases such as "She added quietly (blah blah)." or "(blah blah blah), he offered reluctantly."

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