The way we walk often depends on how we feel – we walk differently when we are tired, happy, sad, afraid, full of energy – and the words that we use for walking often reveal the way that we feel at the time too. English words for walking can describe far more than just the physical action of walking, they can describe our emotions and the mood of a scene too.
Here are some of our favourites that offer you brilliant ways to be more descriptive in your English conversations as well as in your writing. Don’t be afraid to try them out the next time you write an English piece or talk with an English speaker.
Swagger – If you want to see someone swagger, just take a look at the music world. Rock ‘n’ rollers like Oasis’ Liam Gallagher are famous for their swagger, as are lots of hip hop artists, like Jay-Z. It means to walk in a very confident and arrogant or self-important manner, often swaying the shoulders forward and back in an exaggerated way. In slang terms, swagger has taken on a meaning besides just walking these days, and is used to talk about the way a person presents themselves to the world with a lot of confidence generally, not just in their walk.
Stagger – Don’t you just love the English language? Change just one letter in a word and the meaning can change completely! In this case swagger becomes stagger, and this means to walk with great difficulty, almost falling over as you walk. Drunk people are said to stagger home, zombies stagger, someone carrying something very heavy might stagger, and anyone who has injured their leg may also stagger too.
Strut – Here’s another term for walking that infers that you have confidence. Strutting means walking stiffly, upright, in an arrogant way, often to impress others. Supermodels strut down the catwalk, peacocks are said to strut, and people often strut down the street when they’re feeling confident and attractive.
Waddle – To waddle means to walk unsteadily, heavily and clumsily, using short steps and swaying from side to side. If someone is very overweight they’re said to waddle when they walk. It’s not just people that can waddle either, anything that moves in a slow, rocking motion could be said to waddle, for example, The boat waddled into the dock.
Amble – If you’re ambling then you’re certainly feeling very relaxed when you walk. To amble means to walk at a slow, relaxed and leisurely pace, as you might when you’re taking a walk in the park or through town on your day off.
Limp – walking with a limp is definitely bad news. If someone is limping then they’ve most likely suffered an injury. To limp means to walk impeded by some physical limitation or injury. So if you’ve ever stepped on an upturned plug or twisted your ankle and then tried to walk you’ll know exactly what limping is. Anything that lacks strength and stiffness can be described as limp too, such as a limp handshake, or limp prose.
Stroll – this walking word varies from all of our other examples, as it is typically used as a noun as well as a verb. As a verb it means to walk in a leisurely way, for example, I strolled around the lake. As a noun it is a name given to a short leisurely walk, for example, I took a stroll around the lake. While you will definitely hear people in English saying We’re just off out for a stroll, you would never hear them say We’re just off out for a stagger/amble/limp.
Have you come across any English words for walking that you love, or that you find interesting or unusual? We’d love to hear about them, so let us know in the comments below!