Soft We Mosey in the Night

Today is, besides from Thursday, a prime number, and purple, my father’s birthday. I can’t help but combine this happy occurrence with a revelation to you of one of my most treasured adventures with him.

It started out as a cool evening walk in the summer (or one of the seasons that wasn’t winter; though of course, now that I think of it, it could have been winter, but that’s not important). It ended into a bubbling foray into comparative linguistics.

Of course, comparative linguistics may not be the correct term, but it remains a fact that we were closely examining English, which is a language — allegedly — and so falls into “linguistics”, and we were comparing words within the language, so hence, comparative linguistics.

The conversation probably began with a comment about how nice it was to be out for a walk. Then, as those brains born into Scrabble-playing, dictionary-using families are apt to do, a brief list of synonyms was put forth.

Perhaps we were not out for a walk. Would it be more correct to say we were out for a stroll? Or indeed, a ramble? A deep and thorough look into each synonym followed, complete with well-argued stances over the exact implication of each term.

The rest of the walk turned into a great fishing expedition, wherein we netted over 100 Terms Used for Various Methods of Self-Powered Bi-Pedal Locomotion (as my father put it), or 100 Ways to Cross a Room (as I did). Our late-night venture proved profitable for the entire family, who joined in to help fill out the ever-growing list once we returned home.

Here follows this annotated, still-incomplete list with an open invitation to help expand it. I end this post with an ebullient outpouring of effervescence in wishing my father many happy returns of the day.

Terms Used for Various Methods of Self-Powered Bi-Pedal Locomotion
or, Ways to Cross a Room

Most terms are differentiated by speed, direction, attitude, and purpose of movement. And wouldn’t you know? I added three to the list just typing it up.

  1. accelerate To move forward while speeding up.
  2. advance A rather straightforward motion at a low but constant speed.
  3. amble This is a rather slow motion that resembles dawdling but has no reference to a group; it also usually stays on the same path.
  4. barrel A fast and forceful motion that may run into obstacles but proceeds through them.
  5. blast Similar to barrel, but with a greater amount of speed over a shorter distance.
  6. [blitz] A surprising horizontal or vertical movement at the speed of a blast but with the idea of disappearing afterward.
  7. bolt An extended and faster dash, usually away from an undesired location.
  8. boogie Usually used in the term, “Let’s boogie,” it usually refers to the establishment of a retreat rather than advance.
  9. bounce Similar to a hop, the bounce uses not only the springing power of the knees but the elastic nature of the rest of the body to rebound off of not only the floor, but any other encountered obstacles.
  10. breeze At a much slower speed and less detructive force than barrel, a breeze still leaves onlookers with a somewhat bewildered effect.
  11. bumble A slower and less effective bustle.
  12. burst Describing a balistic-like appearance or beginning of motion that usually receives a lot of attention.
  13. bustle A hasty motion that suggests business, often moving back and forth between various points; used when transporting items or accomplishing small tasks.
  14. careen A similar speed of a barrel but with less damaging force; instead of proceeding through obstacles, the careener rebounds off them without losing velocity.
  15. charge A speedy advance.
  16. chase A swift motion, the desired direction of which not being a specified location but a moving target.
  17. chug In a locomatory sense, to “chug” is to imitate a metaphorical freight engine, mightily bearing a strenuous load at a slow but rhythmic pace.
  18. clamber Usually a quick motion over obstacles, often needing both the hands and feet to make forward progress.
  19. dash A straight, swift motion over a short distance, often to avoid something.
  20. dance Can be meant literally (using standard rhythmic footwork) or figuratively, suggesting rhythmic movement by the legs, feet, and body during standard forward motion.
  21. dawdle A slow pace towards a destination, usually characterized by frequent stops, non-standard pace (such as one foot on the curb and one foot in the gutter) and daydreaming, often falling behind a group.
  22. drift A slow, fluid and undirected movement.
  23. edge A slow, stealthy series of short movements towards or away from something, often trying to avoid undesired attention.
  24. explode A more intense burst, which is often followed by a barrelling motion.
  25. festinate To hasten. That’s the dictionary definition. I had to look it up. I think this must have been my dad’s word.
  26. flash A faster dash with flair.
  27. float Similar to the airy nature of the breeze, the float is calmer and seems to have no interaction with the surrounding environment whatsoever, and the feet never seem to touch the ground. Destination may or may not exist.
  28. flounce A slightly agitated gait marked by extra bounce in each step.
  29. fly A hurried motion, similar to a dash but often for a greater distance.
  30. gallop While more common among quadrupeds, bipeds tend to gallop at young ages when in a jovial hurry. Galloping is usually remarked as a cross between a run and a skip, characterized by feet pounding the ground and pushing the knees up for extra airtime during the next stride.
  31. glide A faster and more direct float.
  32. grope A painfully slow way of transversing in the dark, where the hands are used to discover a clear path that may be walked or, more often, crawled. An excellent practice of this skill can be found at the Exploratorium’s Tactile Dome in San Francisco.
  33. hop A bouncing motion that relies solely on the springing power of the knees, used either in tandem or only one at a time (the other being used to hold the unneeded foot off the ground). Obstacles must be either avoided or jumped over.
  34. hurdle A swift motion wherein all obstacles are jumped with great leaps.
  35. hurtle A motion that is extremely similar to barrelling but without the guarantee of the force needed to move through obstacles. While barrelling usually describes a fast and violent motion through obstacles, hurtling describes a fast and violent motion towards an obstacle or destination.
  36. inch Very similar to edge, except with even smaller movements.
  37. insert While difficult to insert oneself across a room, insertion describes the ending of a previous forward motion. The Bi-Pedal Locomotive moves forward along a calculated path to purposefully end up between to objects.
  38. insinuate Very similar to the insert, insinuation is a stealthy (and so often slower) manner of positioning oneself into a desired location between things without being observed.
  39. jet A rarely used action that supposes a louder but slower dash.
  40. jog A slow run.
  41. jolt While not used to promote great expanses of forward progress, the jolt is an extremely fast motion of the body from a relaxed or prone state to an upright and tense position. This word probably shouldn’t be on the list, but j-words are so fascinating, don’t you think?
  42. jump While using the same method as for individual hops, a jump is used to cross larger distances of ground often unable to be crossed by usual methods. Longer jumps [i.e., leaps] can be accomplished with some accelerating motion that ends in a jump.
  43. lag Similar to dawdle in its slowness, especially within or behind a group, a lag merely means a slowing of pace rather than a change in type of motion.
  44. leap A long jump, often with one leg stretched in front of the other (compared to the jump’s usual two-leg start).
  45. loll A marked stop in forward progress with a movement or leaning from side to side.
  46. lope A long, uneven gait at a jogging speed.
  47. lumber A slower version of barrelling, usually performed by a massive biped.
  48. make-one’s-way Not technically a word, but still, it counts. This term describes a forward motion at a walking pace around or over obstacles.
  49. march A brisk advance over long distances, though the path need not be straight.
  50. meander A slow motion with much curving back and forth across a path, often without a destination.
  51. migrate A slow but steady motion over a long distance to a specific location for the purpose of residence, or at least temporary placement.
  52. mince A slow walking motion characterized by steps of minuscule length, usually on the ball of one’s foot. Often caused by ridiculously high heels.
  53. mosey A slow pace with marked lack of urgency to a specific location.
  54. move A general description of motion from one place to another.
  55. pace A brisk walk from one point to another and back again, and again, and again.
  56. parade A good-natured and peppy walk with no necessary destination with a purpose of display.
  57. plod A slow walk wherein the feet hit the ground with more than usual force, often a sign of dreariness or exhaustion.
  58. pound A speedy and forceful run where the feet hit the ground with great force.
  59. prance A light or low skip that has no destination but is intended for show or entertainment.
  60. promenade A walk taken in couples for public view, usually at a walking pace down a specified path but without destination.
  61. race A swift run, usually necessitated by competition or time constraints.
  62. ramble As can be imagined, similar to an amble, but over a greater distance and with less than usual dedication to destination. It differs from wandering in its utter lack of respect for keeping in any constant direction.
  63. retreat A general description of moving to a destination, usually of safety, behind one’s current position.
  64. run The standard forward motion at high speed.
  65. sashay A gliding gait in a zig-zag fashion, often with the hips and upper body oriented perpendicular to the direction of motion.
  66. saunter A self-confident, slightly-lopsided gate that is slower than a walk but usually to a purposed destination.
  67. sail Very similar to breeze, but somewhat swifter and more noticed.
  68. sally forth to venture upon a forward motion with high spirits.
  69. scamper A swift movement, usually over short obstacles.
  70. scramble A quicker and less smooth motion than a clamber, usually experiencing obstacles that move or interact with the locomoting biped.
  71. scuttle A swift sideways motion consisting of short strides, much like a crab’s.
  72. shamble A shamble is almost a shuffle combined with a stumble. Actually, it’s not almost, it is.
  73. shimmy To be precise, one usually shimmies up something, like a pole, by using the feet, thighs, and arms to pull and push oneself alternatively. One of course could also do the shimmy dance step across a room, which kind of counts.
  74. shoot A more forceful but less flashy flash.
  75. shuffle A slow forward progress marked by very little vertical motion of the legs and small strides that slide the feet forward.
  76. sidle A slower and smoother but no-less-sideways scuttle.
  77. skedaddle To vacate the premises quickly.
  78. skip A joyful expression of movement, whereby the knees are kicked up alternately, producing small hops and a large gait. Faster than walking but produces more endorphins.
  79. skittle To speed and almost lose one’s footing across a surface with no traction; an example would be a puppy on a linoleum floor.
  80. skulk Usually a slow and suspicious motion by moving within shadows.
  81. slide A smooth, sideways motion that uses a lack of friction to one’s advantage. This lack of friction could be real or perceived.
  82. slip A low-profile and unsuspicious way to place oneself at a desired destination unobserved.
  83. sneak A stealthy way from getting from point A to point B without being noticed, usually with short, slow movements by necessity.
  84. speed A very swift walking motion.
  85. [sprint] A run over a short distance, wherein the runner exerts all energy to cover the distance in the shortest possible time. Usually the runner has a general form of a tucked head, inclined body, and arms bent perpendicular at the elbow.
  86. stamp Usually predicated by anger, this is a walk with extreme force applied to each footfall, often to the owner’s pain.
  87. stampede A great many bipeds stamping in forward motion at once.
  88. steal Another great stealth motion that attempts to avoid detection, this usually involves soft, swift, and long movements.
  89. step A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
  90. strain Not quite as violent as struggle but takes as much energy, usually pulling or pushing against a constant force.
  91. stride A swift, long gait.
  92. stroll A stroll is usually a motion for the purpose of itself, usually along a dedicated circuit that ends where it begins.
  93. struggle Not quite as slow but can be more violent and exhausting than toil.
  94. strut Another high-stepping gate that is often performed when full of pride or vanity.
  95. stumble Like many other “-mble” motions, this one does use the hands but only to break falls as obstacles are hit or the balance is broken.
  96. sweep Practically impossible to do without long skirts or a broom, this motion focuses mainly on the forward motion around obstacles by making large lateral arcs when they aren’t truly necessary.
  97. swish Again, hard to do without skirts. Small, tiny sweeps from side to side.
  98. tip-toe A quiet motion that can be both slow or fast, balancing the full weight on alternating balls of the feet.
  99. toddle A short but quick unbalanced gate marked not by the knees lifting up but by shifting weight from leg to leg and moving each leg forward alternately as a unit. Popular with very young bipeds.
  100. toil Describes any forward motion that requires strenuous activity to maintain progress.
  101. trail Used to describe keeping a constant or increasing distance from a moving target and can be used to describe either a constant or slowing pace.
  102. tramp A description of constant walking motion from place to place without deference to destination.
  103. trudge About the same speed as a plod but with less vertical movement of the legs.
  104. traipse A quick, almost bustling gate with an air of flounce to it, usually perpetuated in pride. Usually applied to women.
  105. venture Can describe any forward motion begun with overcoming hesitation, usually moving from the known to the unknown.
  106. walk Standard forward motion, no destination required.
  107. waltz Characterized by long sliding strides of the waltz step, though can be used to describe any smooth step that reminds observers of dance.
  108. wander A steady pace in a mostly forward direction without destination and with an openness to change direction.
  109. weave Forward motion hindered by stable or moving objects that must be cut in front of or gotten around, usually people in a crowd.
  110. wend A path that may look like a ramble but is necessary because of obstacles.
  111. wiggle A slow method of whole-body movement that may provide forward progress in tight spaces.
  112. wind A faster and tighter wend.
  113. work-one’s-way A more arduous version of make-one’s-way, usually because of an increase in the difficulty of obstacles.
  114. zip A less pronounced flash.
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2 thoughts on “Soft We Mosey in the Night

  1. Terry Chrisman says:

    I finally read this; it took me a while to journey across the room to the computer…(this might make more sense if you understood the condition of the room right now…)

    I stand in awe of the nuanced definitions.

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