How do you describe the following kind of 'search' in one word?

A blind man searching for a faucet in a room


A normal man searching for a faucet in a dark room

Is it fumbling, scouring, scouting, scrounging, or something else?

  • I've got to go for fumbling (well, I would, wouldn't I? :) According to Google Books, there are 9 instances of groped for the alarm, but "About 1,910 results" for fumbled for the alarm, and I defy anyone to claim they mean slightly different things. Jan 2, 2015 at 16:24
  • I think Fumbling is more suited for this context
    – hfatahi
    Jan 2, 2015 at 16:27

3 Answers 3


To grope: (from TFD)

  • (usually foll by: for) to feel or search about uncertainly (for something) with the hands

  • to search for something by reaching or touching usually with your fingers in an awkward way

  • to move forward carefully by putting your hands in front of you so that you can feel anything that blocks you

  • he groped for the light switch in the dark room
  • she groped for the cell phone in her purse.


feel around (for someone or something) and feel about(for someone or something):

  • to try to find someone or something by feel [rather than sight]. He felt around for the soap in the bathtub. She felt about for the dog at the foot of the bed, but it wasn't there. Gerald felt about for a pencil.
  • 2
    I would be careful about using grope. If the context is clear (i.e. A man was groping about in the dark for a faucet) then you won't have a problem. But also carries a negative connotation associated with sexual harassment (i.e. He groped her and was sued for sexual harassment).
    – Nick2253
    Jan 2, 2015 at 16:07
  • Well, context is important, but I don't think you can easily misunderstand the sentences.
    – user66974
    Jan 2, 2015 at 16:10
  • Consider the paired sentences: "It was dark. He was groping." That will immediately conjure a negative connotation for most readers.
    – Nick2253
    Jan 2, 2015 at 16:11
  • 2
    @Nick2253 The "kind of search" specified in the OP most certainly has an object, so you would be groping for that object, not just groping.
    – David K
    Jan 2, 2015 at 16:14
  • 1
    @DavidK "Ray Charles is groping all about." could definitely be ambiguous. :)
    – Nick2253
    Jan 2, 2015 at 16:24

The word you've narrowed down appears to be the best fit- fumble - “He fumbled towards the door”

  • feel about uncertainly or blindly

  • handle clumsily (metaphorically)

However, fumbling is an uncoordinated movement that can involve your entire body, not just your hands.


What if your movements weren't quite as spastic? What if the blind man had been in that bathroom a thousand times? What if the situation called for caution?

"Within the total darkness of the room, he calculated the location of the live socket and installed a bulb."

"Unencumbered by the darkness, the blind man deftly negotiated the staircase."

(blind man/deft - kinda cute... n'est pas?)


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