I cannot think of an effective verb that would suggest someone is doing something unknowingly yet doing it nonetheless - almost like acquiescing. I have thought of 'sleepwalking' however there must be something better.

For example, VERB into a materialistic society.

  • So you're set on a verb? An adverb like absently won't do?
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 11:50
  • 1
    Or unwittingly?
    – bib
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 11:53
  • Absent-mindedly could also fit this
    – user128193
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 11:54
  • 1
    Have added an example sentence. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 11:56
  • 2
    Maybe we need a neologism, such as zombie as a verb - Exhausted, he zombied his way through the lesson.
    – bib
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 11:58

10 Answers 10


They are drifting into a materialistic society.

They are sliding into a materialistic society.

  • 2
    Sliding or Stumbling was what I was going it post. It suggests being conscious of the motion but helpless though.
    – Avon
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 12:04
  • 1
    Yes, I like sliding, for Avon's reasons exactly. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 12:15
  • What about slipping? We are silently slipping into materialistic society?
    – Thinkeye
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 12:44

He is sleepwalking into disaster.


They are muddling into a materialistic society.

From http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/muddle:

  1. to behave, proceed, or think in a confused or aimless fashion or with an air of improvisation: Some people just muddle along, waiting for their big break.

gravitate to or towards (verb):

  1. Move towards or be attracted to a person or thing

'young Western Europeans will gravitate towards Berlin'

  1. (Physics) Move, or tend to move, towards a centre of gravity or other attractive force

'the moon gravitates towards the earth'

  1. (archaic) Descend or sink by the force of gravity

'water gravitates towards the sea; vapour rises to the sky'

Source: ODO

The example sentence, above, becomes:

'S/he gravitated towards a materialistic society.'


There aren't many concise verbs to describe what you are wanting. I would suggest rephrasing to use an Adverb, such as: Inadvertently

A moment later, nevertheless, McChrystal may have inadvertently revealed what motivated the entire coverup.


  • 3
    The OP wants a verb, not an adverb. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 11:59
  • Maybe they can speak for themselves? No need to be so curt and derisory, @chasly
    – user128193
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 12:39
  • Oops - I thought I was being succinct. Apologies all round. Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 15:41
  • No problem, I think I was merely highlighting that there aren't any pleasant verbs to convey the meaning. Perhaps, the OT might consider a more favourable adverb.
    – t0rn
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 15:47

Evolve fits your needs and in particular your example pretty closely. Evolution is a natural process, implying the lack of intention you're looking for. It also fits your example as it's an act of change and development.

Similarly, you might consider mutate, another natural occurrence with greater emphasis on randomness and less emphasis on a direction of development.

More generally, you could say my answer is: use a context-specific verb which emphasizes nature (i.e. the lack of human intention) as the driving force behind the action.


How about "to find oneself" [doing something], to indicate that all of a sudden someone realizes she's in a circumstance she hadn't expected to be in:

2). (idiomatic) To unexpectedly or unintentionally begin to do or experience something.
When news of his wife's murder spread around the media, he found himself in front of a press conference explaining his actions.



How about “subconsciously” walking, sliding, etc. “into materialistic society”?

The subconsciously (adverb) part allows for the passive and active aspects of “doing something unknowingly yet doing it nonetheless.”

adverb: subconsciously; adverb: sub-consciously in a way that is influenced by the part of the mind of which one is not fully aware. "maybe subconsciously I was trying to sabotage the deal" (from online search under “subconsciously.”)


In the exact sentence you've given as an example, I'd use slump

Slump: to move down or forward suddenly

Slump: a marked or sustained decline especially in economic activity or prices

Humanity slumped into a materialistic society

It gives the impression of an untended stack of stuff that just randomly toppled into a mess one day.

If you want something more active, you might try bumble.

Bumble: to proceed unsteadily

Humanity bumbled into a materialistic society

When used in your sentence, that should give the impression of a lot of seemingly undirected movement resulting in the transition you describe.

In both cases, the phrases would indicate that society did what you ascribe to them without consciously deciding to do so; that it was asleep at the wheel, so to speak. Slump implies an almost callous disinterest as a causal connotation, while bumble implies ineptitude.

You might also choose blunder, stumble or fumble as fine synonyms for bumble in this case.

For slump, you could also consider slouch, as in the title of the book "slouching towards Bethlehem", a collection of essays which together depict the sort of "arrival due to aimless wandering" I think you're looking for.


To submit? or perhaps to resign?

  • 1
    Neither of these fit the desired meaning. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 16:10
  • 1
    Both "submit" and "resign" seem to have more of a sense of doing something knowingly, or at least with awareness. They also don't fit into the example sentence.
    – herisson
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 22:21

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