Everyone can think inside their head (Without producing any sound from their mouth). What is this called in English?

  1. He says: "This is good." but he internally says: "This is bad".
  2. He says: "This is good." but he internally thinks: "This is bad".
  3. He says: "This is good." but he internally feels that this is bad.
  4. He says: "This is good." but he silently thinks: "This is bad".
  5. He says: "This is good." but he says: "This is bad" inside himself.
  6. Something else that you would like to suggest.

I prefer the colloquial AmE. Slang is okay.

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    "Everyone can think inside his head" -- not everyone reports experiencing an internal monologue, incidentally. – Roger Lipscombe May 28 '19 at 8:45
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    Literally all your examples are explicitly not about thinking without speaking, but about speaking and thinking something different! – I'm with Monica May 29 '19 at 10:27

The most common term for "to think without speaking aloud" is simply "to think." However, if you want to emphasize that the person is having a private thought or a thought that contradicts his words or actions, you can use "to think to oneself," like so:

"This is good," he says, while thinking to himself that it is bad.

"This is the worst pie I've ever eaten," he thought to himself, trying his best to look as if he were enjoying it.

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    Although it's certainly common, I've never liked "think to oneself". We're not telepathic; we can't think to anyone else! – David Richerby May 28 '19 at 16:46
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    For colloquial AmE "think to oneself" is definitely the answer here: "What a Wonderful World" lyrics – JimmyJames May 28 '19 at 16:53
  • @DavidRicherby I think it makes sense in some contexts but in general is probably just idiomatic. The contexts where it might make sense is when you use quotes around what the person thought, but don't want to confuse it with thinking out loud. – JMac May 28 '19 at 17:25
  • @DavidRicherby though people do say "...and I'm just thinking out loud..." – Brad May 29 '19 at 19:34

Internal monologue

An internal monologue, also called self-talk or inner speech, is a person's inner voice which provides a running verbal monologue of thoughts while they are conscious.



Sometimes we say a person 'keeps their thoughts to themself'. This means that they have a thought about something but they don't want others to know what their thought is.

Although he disagreed, he kept his thoughts to himself.

It usually means that the person deliberately chose not to share their thoughts, not that they just didn't bother to say anything.

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    "themselves" or "themself" is more standard than "their self". – Acccumulation May 27 '19 at 4:20
  • This is the best answer - though you should consider to apply the correction from @Acccumulation 's comment – StephenBoesch May 27 '19 at 17:39
  • @dwilli Because the only purpose of comments is to improve posts themselves, not to externally clarify things. You should make the correction and then flag the comment as no longer being necessary. If you feel that strongly about them receiving credit, you can acknowledge them in the answer. – Anthony Grist May 28 '19 at 15:41
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    Yes, it's awkward, because we're using the pronouns 'they' and 'them' to refer to a single person to try to be gender neutral. This is a difficulty recently introduced into English. Previously we would have used 'he' and 'him' for the case when the gender was unknown. I don't think the English speaking community has agreed on a good solution yet. – dwilli May 28 '19 at 18:45
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    Yeah, well, frankly, it's all beyond me. There is also the long, long tradition of using themself in other contexts. Everyone should do it themselves. Ughh. :) Cheers. The problem with gender neutral is the plural. How do you distinguish between a singular gender neutral person and a group of them?? – Lambie May 29 '19 at 15:41

We call it a lie or a fib when someone says something that they don't think is true. Usually lying is bad, but not necessarily if it is a minor lie in a social context that doesn't harm anyone (for example, telling someone that their potluck dish is good even if you didn't like it), in which case we would call it a "white lie" or a fib. It's also a common superstition to cross your fingers out of sight (behind your back or under the table) to invalidate something you say (it also can mean you are wishing for luck, so be careful!).

Here are a bunch of colloquial ways to tell your aunt that her pie was good when it wasn't:

"This is good," he lied.

"This is good," he fibbed.

"This is good," he said, while thinking the opposite.

"This is good," he said, mentally adding the word "not".

"This is good," he said, hoping she wouldn't hear the lie.

"This is good," he said, crossing his fingers under the table.

"This is good," he said, mentally crossing his fingers.


I found two derogatory words that might be suitable for this context. One is a formal word, duplicity, which means contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action

and the other one is a colloquial word. two-face,

I thought Kaila was my friend, but it turns out she talks shit about me behind my back, what a two-face.

  • The colloquial noun 'two-face' comes from the adjective 'two-faced', which is a fairly standard usage. – dwilli May 27 '19 at 2:27
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    "Two-faced" implies that the person says one thing to one audience, and says (or implies) something else to a different audience. – Jasper May 27 '19 at 4:21
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    Perhaps refrain from using the Urban Dictionary as a source. It is not always reliable and can be a farm for trolls, not to mention the plethora of vulgar language in word definitions. – TheSimpliFire May 27 '19 at 7:24
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    I don't think your answer fits the question. Two-face has a very negative connotation and while it fits OP's example, I think OP was looking for a more neutral term. Duplicity, in my opinion, is a bit too general and also implies some kind of bad intention. – Ian May 28 '19 at 6:36
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    @ Jasper @Ian I think you're right. OP was looking for a neutral word and I'll declare that these two words are derogatory as additional information for the topic. – Ethan May 28 '19 at 7:24

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