I think I've got a word in mind but it's not coming to me. The sentence in question revolves around an unconscious character's head "lolling from side to side" as he's carried across a room. I was going to say his head was "lolling limply from side to side," but I'm trying to think of a...more descriptive adverb. I'm looking for something that captures the essence of his unresponsiveness. The scene's POV character is extremely concerned about this character, and the way his head is moving makes her afraid he's going to die.

"Limply" works, but I'd just hoped to find something more specific, and I'm drawing a blank. Does anyone have any ideas based on the above description?

  • lolling may be a real word, and may mean what you think (I looked it up, and it does) but I'd imagine most people these days are going to LOL when they read that a head is LOLing. But I guess it depends on the age of the target demographic. Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 22:17
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    I vote for bonelessly! Vertebrae are important, and it freaks people out in a primal way to picture muscles encased in skin, deprived of their skeletal structure. Floppy. Unmoored. Dangerous. Bonelessly!
    – Amanda K
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 3:56
  • @developerwjk I'm not LOL! But, then again, I happen to have a rather licentious image in my mind's eye of the character of Mrs. Dai Bread Two, penned by Dylan Thomas in "Under Milk Wood as,"...lolling gaudy at the doorway". Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 4:51
  • @developerwjk oh trust me, I took that into consideration ;) It is kind of a funny word...I may end up changing it in later drafts. Who knows.
    – EJF
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 16:41

3 Answers 3


Inertly is a promising adverb.

From Google:

inert: lacking the ability or strength to move; lacking vigor

The OP's example:

... an unconscious character's head "lolling ______ from side to side" as he's carried across a room": ... an unconscious character's head "lolling inertly from side to side as he's carried across a room"

I would think that inertly captures what you are looking for, i.e., "the essence of his unresponsiveness." If I were the "scene's POV character", I would "be extremely concerned about this character, and the way his head is moving makes her afraid he's going to die."

  • Surely "lolling 'inertly' from side to side" is a contradiction in terms, what? If inert means, "Having no inherent power of action, motion, or resistance" (dictionary.com), then how does that fit with a "side to side" motion of the head? Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 5:05
  • @PeterPoint Greetings. We're talking about the character's head lolling from side to side as he's being carried across a room. That the character's head is lolling is a given.The question is, "How is it lolling?" My answer is inertly. Your answer is that is is lolling flaccidly. For me, inertly works. Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 5:11
  • The phrase "side to side" indicates a movement or motion of the head but inert means no movement of motion. I find it difficult to match these notions. Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 5:16
  • @PeterPoint The head is lolling limply, the head is lolling flaccidly, the head is lolling inertly -- limp, flaccid, and inert are intended to refer back to the head. That is, to say that "the head is lolling limply, flaccidly, or inertly" is to say that "the head is limp, flaccid, or inert." That's my take on it anyway. It's the OP's construction. Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 5:31
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    @PeterPoint Good to exchange comments with you. The fact of the matter is that the character is unresponsive. The lolling is caused entirely by the carrying. Let's move on, until next time. :-) Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 5:37

May I suggest the word flaccid, adjective - "(of part of the body) soft and hanging loosely or limply, especially so as to look and feel unpleasant (Google) My spellcheck indicates that the adverb, flaccidly, exists.


Possible candidates: flimsily, floppily, enervated, flabbily, listlessly, droopingly, limberly. ("lolling limberly" even has a pleasent sound to it, which would make a stark contrast to the situation your character is in, thereby increasing tension.)

  • @P.O. Hello! How should I phrase my answer so that it would conform to this rule? I checked the link you shared, but it's still not clear. I think it's quite clear what my answer is: use one of those words in your sentence to get desired result. Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 11:44
  • @PerplexedPerson I don't feel like it requires clarification lol. Thanks for all the options!
    – EJF
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 16:45
  • @EJF Sure, you're welcome. I'm still curious to know how my answer would need clarification. P.O., would you care to respond please? Also, could someone please elaborate on the downvote? Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 0:27
  • @P.O. Then why did Cool Elf and thcrist get upvotes here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/76236/… ? They didn't define their words and neither did they give any links. Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 15:37
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    They got upvotes from people who did not apply the agreed current rules, I would have flagged them if I had read them at time. Anyway, this is not the place to discuss that. I'll delete my comments and I invite you to open a post on Meta linking this post and ask your question there. Comments are not for extended disscussion.
    – P. O.
    Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 16:39

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