As a first point here are some definitions of recite from OALD

  1. to say a poem, piece of literature, etc. that you have learned, especially to an audience
  2. to say a list or series of things

Literally let me write it in a dialog so that its context would be understandable:

A: That would be presumptuous.

B: What?

A: Im not sure I recite it correctly, but he just said "That would be presumptuous".

I hope that makes sense. Does the word recite sound OK there? Or should I substitute it with something else? However, it's not that I want to use word like "hear, pronounce, or say", but I need a very similar word to recite i.e. repeating the very same phrase that someone just said. (I did try to use the verb repeat, but it didn't sound good). As we can see from OALD, recite is saying a more poem or poetic like or a list, that makes me unsure to use it.

Do you have any word I require that fits better? Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    Why do you think 'repeat' is not the right verb? Why doesn't it 'sound good'? Jul 25, 2022 at 12:50
  • @MichaelHarvey I don't know, I might use it in the wrong context. What matters is "repeating what someone has just said, but not only directly but also indirectly", I'm really sorry if it doesn't make sense, let's say I SAW the phrase somewhere but I'm not sure I say it correctly, I wouldn't say repeat.
    – user516076
    Jul 25, 2022 at 12:59
  • 1
    "I'm not sure if those were his exact words, but..." Jul 25, 2022 at 13:56
  • 1
    In any case, I'm reciting. [Please check the usage of verbs in the present simple.]
    – Lambie
    Jul 25, 2022 at 15:39
  • Why is the pronoun "he" used in the third sentence of dialogue? Shouldn't it be "I", since person A is speaking again? Jul 26, 2022 at 18:34

1 Answer 1


We use 'recite' about repeating aloud a memorised poem, list, etc, to an audience.

The boy recited the poem 'Casabianca' by Felicia Hemans, that starts 'The boy stood on the burning deck...' to his class.

We would not use 'recite' about simply repeating something heard to someone else. We would use 'repeat'

Speaker on radio: That would be presumptuous.

B: What did he say?

A: I'm not sure I am repeating it correctly, but I think he just said "That would be presumptuous".

  • An appropriately horrible poem to torture a schoolboy with. Jul 25, 2022 at 13:25
  • @JeffreyCarney - mine was not one of the generations forced to memorise it, but, even so, we were aware of it, mainly because of the parodies of it that were passed around orally, most too obscene to be repeated here. Jul 25, 2022 at 13:43
  • @JeffreyCarney - an excellent example to today's youth, if you ask me: The flames rolled on – he would not go/Without his Father’s word;/That father, faint in death below,/His voice no longer heard. These days the boy would be so busy with his phone, he wouldn't notice the flames, and probably didn't hear his father's instructions. Jul 25, 2022 at 13:47

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