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Words to Describe Someone's Voice
I went scouting through the internet for words to describe a character’s voice. Here’s a handy list for all you writers:
- Adenoidal/Nasal - Some of the sound seems to come through the nose.
- Appealing - Shows that you want help, approval, or agreement.
- Breathy - With loud breathing noises.
- Brittle - You sound as if you are about to cry.
- Croaky - Sounds as if they have a sore throat.
- Dead - They feel or show no emotion.
- Disembodied - Voice comes from someone who you cannot see.
- Flat - Spoken in a voice that does not go up and down.
- Fruity - Deep and strong in a pleasant way.
- Grating - Unpleasant and annoying.
- Gravelly - Low and rough.
- Gruff - Has a rough low sound.
- Guttural - Deep and made at the back of your throat.
- High-Pitched - Very high and shrill.
- Hoarse - Low rough voice, usually because their throat is sore.
- Honeyed - Falsely sweet voice.
- Husky - A husky voice is deep and sounds hoarse often in an attractive way.
- Low - Quiet and difficult to hear / in a deep voice.
- Matter-of-fact - Used about someone’s behavior or voice.
- Modulated - Controlled and pleasant to listen to.
- Monotonous - Boring because it does not change in loudness or become higher or lower.
- Orotund - Loud and clear.
- Penetrating - So high or loud that it makes you uncomfortable.
- Plummy - This word shows that you dislike people who speak like this.
- Quietly - In a quiet voice.
- Raucous - Loud and sounds rough.
- Ringing - very loud and clear.
- Rough - Not soft and is unpleasant to listen to.
- Shrill - Very loud, high, and unpleasant.
- Silvery - Clear, light, and pleasant.
- Singsong - Rises and falls in a musical way.
- Small - A small voice or sound is quiet.
- Smoky - Sexually attractive in a slightly mysterious way.
- Softly Spoken - A quiet gentle voice.
- Sotto Voce - A very quiet voice.
- Stentorian - Loud and severe.
- Strangulated - One that someone stops before they finish making it.
- Strident - Loud and unpleasant.
- Taut - Shows someone is nervous or angry.
- Thick - Voice sounds less clear because of an emotion.
- Thin - High and unpleasant to listen to.
- Throaty - Low and seems to come from deep in your throat.
- Tight - Shows that you are nervous or annoyed.
- Toneless - Does not express any emotion.
- Tremulous - It is not steady because you are afraid or excited.
- Wheezy - Has difficulty breathing.
- Wobbly - Unstable tone due to fright or emotions.
Alternatives for: "Smile"
Okay, so, this turned up a lot like the “said” debate. Some of the alternatives for smile just happen to be for really specific situations, and/or are often misused.
Smile is a great word, and when you try and use an alternative, said alternative often ends up being: a) wrongly used or b) ridiculous sounding. Oftentimes it’s just okay to write “he smiled” or “they smiled at each other” rather than getting “creative” with it.
Here are some options for the word “smile”, plus their definitions so you can use them correctly.
- Happy expression: well, there isn’t much to do here. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
- Beam: to smile expansively. To express by means of a radiant smile. It has a positive connotation. E.g. He beamed his approval of the new idea.
- Closed-mouthed smile. Again, self explanatory. It can have either a positive or neutral connotation, in my opinion.
- Crinkle eyes: I once read that a person crinkles their eyes when their smile is honest, so this would have a positive meaning.
- Expression of friendliness/tenderness/etc.
- Grin: It really depends. (To) grin is the action of drawing back the lips, revealing your teeth. It can be either a wide smile out of amusement, embarrassment, glee, etc, (positive) or a grimace (negative connotation for this case).
- Leer: To look with a sidelong glance, indicative especially of sexual desire or sly and malicious intent. (mostly a negative connotation)
- Mug: slang for a grimace and/or face.
- Pleased look
- Show off dimples
- Show some teeth
- Simper: To smile in a silly, self-conscious, often coy manner.
The deal with “smirk”
- It has a rather negative connotation.
- It is not a positive, friendly smile, so it is not a (positive) substitute for it.
- It can be both a verb or a noun yet it is prefered not to overuse as a verb
- I would define it as a “smug, condescending, mocking” kind of smile.
Good, glad we’ve cleared this out.
UPG (Unsubstantiated/Unverified Personal Gnosis): A spiritual experience you have that may not perfectly align with others’.
SPG (Shared Personal Gnosis): A spiritual experience that is shared by multiple, unrelated people, independently.
CG (Confirmed Gnosis): A spiritual experience which is later found to have roots or basis in spiritual lore or accepted fact.
Word of the Day: Falcate
falcate \FAL-keyt, adjective:
curved like a scythe or sickle; hooked; falciform.
…Mario did the choreography and most of the puppet-work personally—his little S-shaped arms and falcate digits are perfect for the forward curve from body to snout of a standard big-headed political puppet…
— David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, 1996
The adult leaves are lanceolate, falcate, almost equally green on both sides.
— Murray Bail, Eucalyptus: A Novel, 1998
Falcate entered English in the 1800s from the Latin falcem meaning “sickle.”