Saturday, June 28, 2008

Walk, walk, and more walk

Unless we are comatose, we all perform the movement of walking every day. But do we spend all our moving time walking? Don’t we sometimes stroll? Is it possible that we run some of the time? Perhaps we even skip. The word walk is a general term that refers to standing upright and placing one foot in front of the other in a forward direction. It does not always convey the specific information that we want to give to a reader.

Example: John has a broken leg with a cast on it. He cannot put the broken leg flat on the floor. To get from his bed to his desk, would we say he walked? Wouldn’t it be more precise to say that he hopped? Or perhaps hobbled?

Example: Robert needs to be on the 8:00 a.m. bus to Manhattan. It is now 7:55. The bus stop is three blocks away. Is Robert going to walk to the bus stop? Wouldn’t it be more precise to say that he ran or dashed to the bus stop?

Example: You discover a previously undiscovered tunnel in the side of a mountain. You want to give the reader the idea that the tunnel is not very tall. If you say that you walked through the entrance, then the tunnel’s ceiling is higher than your height. If you say you crawled, the reader automatically knows that the ceiling height was too low for you to stand up straight.

Some words to replace walk are:

amble, ambulate, bobble, careen, circuit, cross, dally, exercise, flounce, foot, gait, hike, jaunt, limp, lumber, march, mince, mosey, move, pace, parade, patrol, pedestrianize, perambulate, peregrinate, plod, prance, promenade, ramble, ramp, roam, rove, sashay, saunter, shuffle, sidle, slink, step, stretch, stride, stroll, strut, swagger, toddle, totter, trade, trail, traipse, tramp, travel, traverse, tread, trudge, turn, tiptoe, waddle, wade, wander. Sometimes you scamper. Sometimes you bustle, dart, dash, flit, harry, hasten, hie, hurry, hustle, race, run, rush, scoot, scuttle, skedaddle, speed, sprint, whisk. Other times you bolt, gallop, glide, hurry, hustle, jog, lope, pace, pursue, race, rush, scoot, scurry, scutter,skedaddle,spurt, stampede,traverse, trot. There are times you dawdle, loiter, meander, pace, ramble, rove, saunter.

Keep in mind that not all of these words can be substituted one for the other. When in doubt, look up the meaning.

A note to moms: If you want to teach your children vocabulary and also get them to move around, let them "illustrate" the walk words above by actually performing them.

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