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. Commented May 28, 2019 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! Commented May 29, 2019 at 10:27

5 Answers 5


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! Commented May 28, 2019 at 16:46
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    For colloquial AmE "think to oneself" is definitely the answer here: "What a Wonderful World" lyrics
    – JimmyJames
    Commented May 28, 2019 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
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 17:25
  • @DavidRicherby though people do say "...and I'm just thinking out loud..."
    – Brad
    Commented May 29, 2019 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". Commented May 27, 2019 at 4:20
  • This is the best answer - though you should consider to apply the correction from @Acccumulation 's comment Commented May 27, 2019 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. Commented May 28, 2019 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
    Commented May 28, 2019 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
    Commented May 29, 2019 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
    Commented May 27, 2019 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
    Commented May 27, 2019 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. Commented May 27, 2019 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
    Commented May 28, 2019 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. Commented May 28, 2019 at 7:24

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