I need a verb meaning "walking slowly into water" that fits this example:

She shivered a bit - as the lake water was cold - but then continued to ____ into the deep.

  • slink dictionary.com/browse/slink ....plod dictionary.com/browse/plod – user180089 Jul 13 '16 at 0:23
  • just realized slink sounds like sink, which makes it extra appropriate – user180089 Jul 13 '16 at 0:49
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    waddle, but sounds like you want the water to be heavy, cold and deep .. how about 'slog'? – a20 Jul 13 '16 at 7:54
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    roll into the deep – Dumbledore Jul 13 '16 at 14:06
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11 Answers 11


I'd use wade:

to walk through water, to move or proceed with difficulty

Or, in your example

She shivered a bit - as the lake water was cold - but then continued to wade into the deep.

  • I would say waddle too .. but the context here is of "cold, deep & heavy" water, and 'waddle' seems to be more suitable for warmer, shallower water .. thoughts? – a20 Jul 13 '16 at 7:57
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    Completely unfounded response based on emotional reactions to the words, but to me, 'wade' sounds better as it implies difficulty. If the water is cold, deep and heavy, and she is experiencing physical reactions to it, such as shivering, I'd definitely go for 'wade'. – spoorlezer Jul 13 '16 at 8:26
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    'Waddle' implies a certain motion, not merely walking. 'Wade' would seem to imply the aspect of moving slowly, as one does when they walk through water. – Thomas Jul 13 '16 at 9:29
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    Waddle reminds me of ducks. – Steven Littman Jul 13 '16 at 16:13
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    @JoshuaTaylor I disagree; it only implies that you cannot progress by wading past a certain depth. Just because I can wade in the shallow end of a swimming pool, it does not imply that the pool has no deep end. If I wade toward the deep end, at some point I have to give up wading and either submerge or swim. – Hellion Jul 13 '16 at 17:20

Wade is good for the "entering water" context, but to convey the idea of overcoming the trepidation of entering the cold water, consider

ease (M-W)

to maneuver gently or carefully: eased himself into the chair

The resultant sentence would therefore read

She shivered a bit - as the lake water was cold - but then continued to ease into the deep.

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    Similarly, inch. – TRiG Jul 13 '16 at 17:32
  • This allows for easing down a ladder or off a dock, as well. – JPhil Jul 13 '16 at 22:27
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    I normally associate easing with a pleasant process. For me, the word doesn't accurately convey the natural unpleasantness of wading into cold water. – BadHorsie Jul 15 '16 at 15:14
  • I think that all depends on context. A person easing themselves into a chair due to muscle soreness or arthritis is certainly not experiencing a pleasant process. Someone easing their way into a hot tub is doing so because they haven't yet acclimated to the temperature of the water. It may be greatly pleasant after acclimating, but until then you enter the water gently, slowly, or carefully. Someone easing their shirt off due to sunburn is decidedly not experiencing pleasure. – vynsane Jul 15 '16 at 15:21
  • Pleasantness is part of it; another part is care. If you ease into a chair, you’re either doing it because you have to be extra careful about something (a twisted ankle, for example, making sudden movements painful) or because the end result is pleasant (easing into your comfy armchair with a bowl of sweets to watch a movie). Neither criterion really fits with walking into cold water. Sure, it’s not that pleasant, but there’s nothing you have to be actually careful enough about to call it easing. Easing also feels like too ‘small’ a movement, compared to wading out into a lake. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 16 '16 at 11:54

In this context, and it definitely gives off a distinct vibe, so if this doen't match the tone, please feel free to overlook, but I think "descend into the deep" could be a good fit here.

Read the sentence aloud with "descend" and you, too will shiver.


The first thing that sprung to mind is that I would say:

She shivered a bit - as the lake water was cold - but then crept into the deep.

It's not a water specific word but since your context already describes the environment, I think it's more important to convey the sense of what's happening more so than than anything else, and aside from the

I am also almost certain I've heard it used in the context of entering all sorts of seemingly void mediums, like space, darkness, shadows and yes even deep water, although I can't seem to find a good illustrative quotations regarding those specific usages right now. Regardless "creep in [to something]" is a very common set of words meaning something along the lines of:

to go into something or a place slowly and carefully; to sneak into something or a place.

The cat crept into the bedroom. Max planned to creep into the house and take cash and jewelry.

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002

It derives from these senses of the word creep:

  1. To move slowly, feebly or timorously [read: timidly]; as an old or infirm man, who creeps about his chamber.

  2. To move slowly and insensibly, as time.

To morrow, and to morrow, and to morrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day.

  1. To move secretly; to move so as to escape detection, or prevent suspicion.

Of this sort are they who creep into houses, and lead away captive silly women. 2 Timothy 3:6.

  1. To steal in; to move forward unheard and unseen; to come or enter unexpectedly or unobserved; as, some error has crept into the copy of a history.

The American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster, published in 1828

An especially convenient thing about using creep, is that it can be used with all sorts of prepositions, which even gives you an exit plan:

See also: creep out

creep out (of something) to go out of something or a place slowly and carefully; to sneak out of something or a place. A little mouse crept out of the cupboard. The fox crept out of the henhouse, carrying a chicken. See also: creep, out

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002

However "Creep Out" is a little more context sensitive than "Creep In". Sometimes I've also heard creep out used to refer to feelings of uneasiness, but in the past tense form, that sense of the word is usually spelled creeped instead.

"Crept is still considered preferable to creeped in almost all cases, with one main exception in the past tense of the phrasal verb creep out, meaning to strike [someone] as weird in a frightinging or off-putting way" — Excerpt from the Grammarist article Crept vs. Creeped


She shivered a bit, as the lake water was cold, but then continued to ____ into the deep.

In this context, I get the impression you’re talking about someone walking into the water, gradually getting deeper. She may not be wading yet — perhaps she’s merely paddling, but the water will shortly be up to her thighs and then her hips, and then she’ll be wading. The point you’re looking to emphasise is slow progression.

A common word for that is inch. Besides its noun meaning as a well known unit of length, it can also be a verb.

Collins definition of inch:

to move or be moved very slowly or in very small steps ⇒ the car inched forward

It suggests moving slowly and also moving carefully (as implied by the “very small steps”). This seems to suit your use-case.



To move smoothly, easily, and quietly

To pass gradually, easily, or imperceptibly into a different state


But the Aboriginal people for whom this place has very special meaning ask that you slip into the water as quietly as you would enter a church.


You can use the word "sink":

We watched the Titanic "sink" into the cold water.

The more you struggle, the more you will "sink" in quicksand.

As our feet "sank" into the mud, the alligators got much closer.

It describes slow or sluggish speed.

  • You could improve this answer by backing up your claim that “sink” implies “slow/sluggish.” For (non-)example, MW gives the example, “The rock sank to the bottom of the pool.” Macmillan gives the example, “The cat sank its claws into my leg.” Dictionary.com says that means “to bite deeply or vigorously”. Cambridge cites the idiom “to sink a ball” (→ “throw it through a hoop”). – Scott Jul 15 '16 at 4:23
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    Sink does not work well here. “She continued to sink into the deep” would with almost complete certainty be taken to mean that she is drowning, sinking below the surface, through the water, towards the bottom, gradually losing conscience. It’s not an ideal choice to describe wading out into a lake and still being above water. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 16 '16 at 11:57

I'd suggest


as that seems to imply resolve, undaunted by discomfort.


I like the word "falter". There is not a lot of context, but what's provided paints a picture of a woman who doesn't want to be there (is she being forced? self-harm? is the context more benign and innocent?). Whatever the context, she is shivering, either in fear reaction or reaction to the cold water, and in a similar position, I would not want to move forward. If I did, I might be having second thoughts about doing so, creating a hesitancy. "...continued to falter into the deep." It has the added benefit of drawing analogous 'similarism' to words like farther, falling, father, etc.


Although it doesn't fit the exact definition, you can use the verb *tramp(.

According to Dictionary.com, it means:

walk heavily

Here is an example:

She shivered a bit - as the lake water was cold - but then continued to tramp into the deep.

It can also be used as a noun. Dictionary.com defines this as:

heavy walk

Here's an example reworded to use tramp as a noun:

She shivered a bit - as the lake water was cold - but then continued her tramp into the deep.

It is implied that the heaviness is the water she is walking in.


delve can mean

"To undertake an activity ... undeterred by ... uncertainty:" Ref

The uncertainly part heightens the "shivering" part.

It is also a nice D alliteration.

... to delve into the deep

"delve" is not directly synonymous with “walking slowly into water”, but the "the deep" relieves the need for a direct water word. "Delve" meshes ignoring the trepidation factor (@vynsane) yet going down into the unknown.

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