I'm trying to describe a scene where a man wakes up and is scared by something in front of him. He's in a lying/propped-up position, and he tries to move away from the object. All I could think of is "scram" or "thrash", but there aren't many examples where either of these words is used in the context "He was on his elbows trying to ____ away from the object". Is there a better verb to describe this motion? Thanks a lot for your help :D

  • I think I've heard "butt crawl" used.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 7, 2015 at 2:03

3 Answers 3


You could use scoot

He was on his elbows trying to scoot away from the object.

Merriam Webster defines it as:

2 : to slide especially while seated

Here are some examples of usage:

I scooted backwards, still on my butt and lower back
Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter


[Olig'] tripped and fell over, landing hard on his back in the middle of the road. [...] and Olig', fearing for his life, scooted backwards like jisduh, the crawdad.
Robert J. Conley's The Peace Chief: A Novel of the Real People

  • Thanks a lot! I knew I had seen this expression somewhere and I was thinking hard about a word starts with a "s" or "th" sound... This is exactly the word I'm looking for :DDD
    – MrKakuya
    Mar 7, 2015 at 1:03

What about "scuttling like a crab" from the comments above? 3/4 credit to Oldcat

  • It would be a bit to long to fit in the context... but that's a expressive way of discribing this scene too :D Thanks!
    – MrKakuya
    Mar 7, 2015 at 1:16
  • 1
    I still think that even "scuttle" will give you more of a hurried spidery escape feel. "Scoot" feels to me like a single motion thing, [scoot over] (idioms.thefreedictionary.com/scoot+over)
    – joeav
    Mar 7, 2015 at 1:27
  • And OP wouldn't be using "like a crab", just "scuttled, scuttling"
    – user98990
    Mar 7, 2015 at 1:30
  • 1
    OP = Original Post or Original Poster = the question or the person who "posted" that question. :-)
    – user98990
    Mar 7, 2015 at 2:02
  • 1
    I've started to think about the differences between "scoot" and "scuttle" ...Much thanks to @LittleEva and @ joeav !!
    – MrKakuya
    Mar 7, 2015 at 2:14

While it isn't specific to the position you discribe, "scrabble away from the object" is the word that came to mind. D

  • this got me thinking about "crab walk", or something like that. One of few expressions I know in German - krebsgang
    – joeav
    Mar 7, 2015 at 0:58
  • 2
    Yes..."scuttling like a crab" or some such.
    – Oldcat
    Mar 7, 2015 at 1:00
  • Thanks you! "Scrabble" reminds me more of someone on all fours or nearly trip over while escaping... A plausible choice indeed XD
    – MrKakuya
    Mar 7, 2015 at 1:12

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