In my writing, I have a character who has rushed across a room and dropped to his knees before a person he believes dead. He looks like this from the side:

enter image description here

After realizing that the dead person is not who he thought he was, the character is still full of shock from the experience. He falls back on his toes as his shock slowly subsides, so that he is now in this position:

enter image description here

What word(s) can I use to describe this position? I'm hoping there is a name for it, but if not, a phrase describing it would be welcome.

Thank you for your time, and please pardon my questionable drawing skills.

1 Answer 1


I've heard that posture described as

sitting on your heels

rather than sitting on your toes. It is also properly called 'kneeling', although that term means, more generally, any of the several postures with knees to the ground, and is closely associated with prayer.

In your example, I would describe the first as 'kneeling', then go to 'he sat back on his heels'.

  • 1
    That was my first thought, but I keep thinking of squatting when I hear 'sitting on heels.' Could just be me though. Dec 2, 2015 at 1:17
  • 1
    @TommyMyron, it's not just you--I considered that, but context is king: if the character is kneeling, then 'sitting back on the heels', that doesn't mean squatting; if the character is sitting on his heels above a cathole, that probably means squatting, and a deep squat at that.
    – JEL
    Dec 2, 2015 at 1:21
  • From my experience living in SEA, squatting has no element of sitting on heels. In squatting, the heels are on the ground, like this -> google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/… Those guys make it look very comfortable, but I have not mastered it yet. Dec 2, 2015 at 2:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.