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I'm trying to find a word that better describes the manner in which a person walks / moves across a room after receiving stunning news. The person is mentally absent and deep in thought processing the information.

I found worlds like amble and saunter that imply a slow walk (would certainly apply here) but they seem to connote a relaxed emotional state. Do either of those words apply here? Is there a word that does?

If not, any suggestions for concisely conveying that type of walk?

  • Just describing his walking as "dazed" seems to work pretty well: "he exited the room in a daze" or something. – BradC Nov 8 '16 at 14:55
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Dragged or shuffled, as each indicates that the person is just about moving his legs.

If you wish to be even more abstract, a-la Cormack McCarthy (whose forms of preposition can consist of "sat in" rather than "upon" the floor,) floated, hovered or crawled could add fluorescent spice to an otherwise conventional paragraph.

My final word is, to use a word that could be interpreted as movement, but barely means walking. In times of stress, one can experience simply appearing, or dragging oneself. Of course, the latter is two words.

Sometimes a single verb does not suffice, and one must break convention by inventing new words.

Good question, and this is my first reply.

Definitions of these words are easily obtainable, though I recommend the Oxford dictionary.

  • 1
    Great answer. It not only suggests terms but provides a framework for finding good words in the future. – Eric J. Nov 4 '16 at 23:10
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Drifted

  1. To be carried along by currents of air or water: a balloon drifting eastward; as the wreckage drifted toward shore.
  2. To proceed or move unhurriedly or aimlessly: drifting among the party guests; a day laborer, drifting from town to town.
  3. To live or behave without a clear purpose or goal: drifted through his college years unable to decide on a career.
  4. To have no continuing focus; stray: My attention drifted during the boring presentation.

In all of the above senses, but perhaps most of all the first: to be moved not by one's own will, but through the buffeting of external forces.

Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/drifted

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Another word which works is strayed. When one strayed to some place, they unintentionally ended up there.

ODO:

stray VERB

[NO OBJECT] 1 Move away aimlessly from a group or from the right course or place.
‘the military arrested anyone who strayed into the exclusion zone’

‘Absentmindedly, she had strayed away from her path and walked into a back alley.’

  • When our pet dog strayed, there was certainly intention. Just on her part, not on ours. – Ben Aveling Nov 6 '16 at 9:39
  • @BenAveling, perhaps the pet dog had the intention to move, but not necessarily to a specific place; I mentioned strayed in that sense. Incidentally drifted was my first thought but that was taken by you (one of the upvotes there is mine). – alwayslearning Nov 6 '16 at 10:06
  • I'll grant that stray can imply a lack of intention - a stray bullet, a stray remark. On the other hand, in both cases, there exists intention - an unfulfilled intention to be somewhere else. The word stray implies in the wrong place, at least in someone's reckoning. Your offered definition of stray says as much: "from the right course or place". – Ben Aveling Nov 6 '16 at 12:33

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