I'm trying to describe a situation where someone is on high alert, scanning his surroundings looking for potential threat.

It seems to me that "Look around" lacks the sense of tension I want. "Scan" feels strange in the context "one moment he was ____ around in search of threat, and the next [an incident happened]".

Thanks for your help!

  • why not just say, "his senses were on high alert"? – Jim Mar 7 '15 at 19:08
  • Look around edgily? – David Garner Mar 7 '15 at 19:51
  • 1
    Unfortunately this site is devoted to English, not Japanese. Otherwise the answer could be きょろきょろ(見回す) - defined there as to look around nervously or restlessly. You might consider something more circumlocutory, such as "His eyes darted round {the room}" – FumbleFingers Mar 7 '15 at 20:37
  • @FumbleFingers darting is an answer (I know because I thought of it before I saw your comment). Offer it. – bib Mar 7 '15 at 23:52
  • @bib: It's not much of an answer (only eyes can "dart", and it ignores pricking [up] one's ears, or other senses put on high alert for danger). Maybe there's a more generic term we're not thinking of (yet). – FumbleFingers Mar 8 '15 at 2:26

He was casting his eyes warily about/around . . .

direct {one's eyes or a look} at something.
"she cast down her eyes"

--Google search (define: operation)

cautiously; carefully.
"they walk warily down the street, terrified of being caught"

synonyms: carefully, with care, cautiously, gingerly, circumspectly, charily, guardedly, on one's guard, on the alert, on the lookout, on the qui vive, attentively, heedfully, watchfully, vigilantly, observantly, alertly, cannily;

--Google search (define: operation)

As has already been suggested, dart is also an option for a verb, as in his eyes darted around/about warily and nervously, guardedly, vigilantly, on alert (some of which have also been already suggested) can be alternatives for warily.


One moment he was alarmed to the sense of threat the next ...


On guard though he was, [an incident happened].

on guard -TFD

  1. on (one's) guard (against someone or something) alert against someone or something.

Glancing nervously ... This is a sentence too.

  • Casting furtive glances.., – Brian Hitchcock Mar 8 '15 at 1:31
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    Perhaps you could try to substantiate your answer, rather than adding nonsensical remarks to meet character minimums. (There's a reason character minimums were implemented; namely, to discourage two-word answers.) – J.R. Mar 8 '15 at 3:21

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