The only word that comes to my mind is tiptoe. However, this word implies that you are walking stealthily or cautiously.

Is there a word that just means to walk slowly?

Example sentence:

Without knowing what I was doing, I _ toward her.

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  • 11
    Hmm. Is it essential that the word provided means "walk"? Or can it just mean "move"? My feeling is that "drifted" fits very nicely, but that doesn't mean "walk" at all. – AndyT Jul 3 '17 at 11:13
  • 1
    Tiptoe doesn't have to be slow. Check out ballerinas, for example. – Carl Witthoft Jul 3 '17 at 11:13
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    how about 'creep' -> 'crept' since it's in the past -- Without knowing what I was doing, I was creeping toward her. (there's a bit of fearful/stealthy feeling in the word 'creep' though); How about 'careen' ? (especially when you're drunk) -> Walk as if unable to control one's movements -- Without knowing what I was doing, I was careening toward her. – Flonne Jul 3 '17 at 12:03
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    Mosey on down (not actually vpeculiar to US, commonly heard in UK). Waddle, amble, pootle, footer, shamble, saunter, traipse, toddle, sidle, sloth, slough, slope, inch, edge, shift ... – Araucaria Jul 3 '17 at 22:13
  • 2
    I like 'migrated'? – Strawberry Jul 5 '17 at 9:26

22 Answers 22

up vote 135 down vote accepted

I would suggest amble:

verb

  1. to go at a slow, easy pace; stroll; saunter:

noun

  1. a slow, easy walk or gentle pace.

dictionary.com

Your sentence would then be:

Without knowing what I was doing, I ambled toward her.

As that definition suggests, strolled or sauntered may also work for you.

  • 2
    "ambled toward her" or "ambled towards her"? – BlackSwan Jul 3 '17 at 11:27
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    @HimabinduBoddupalli - Either is acceptable, I just used what OP wrote. – AndyT Jul 3 '17 at 11:32
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    strolled -upvote because I intended to include in my answer too – mpasko256 Jul 3 '17 at 13:43
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    I was going to suggest saunter, but I see it in your answer. – AidanO Jul 3 '17 at 15:45
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    @AidanO - I have "saunter" more as an aside than as a real answer. If you would like to research it and provide an answer with a suitable dictionary definition, then go ahead. I'd upvote it. – AndyT Jul 3 '17 at 16:08

Depends on what kind of a slow walk you are looking for.

Plod (verb)

walk doggedly and slowly with heavy steps.

e.g. She plodded into the kitchen after a tiresome day.

Lumber (verb)

move in a slow, heavy, awkward way.

Shamble (verb)

(of a person) move with a slow, shuffling, awkward gait.

So the answer would be, "Without knowing what I was doing, I plodded/shambled/lumbered towards her".

  • 16
    @Chenmunka - Since when has that been a rule? – AndyT Jul 3 '17 at 10:43
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    @Chenmunka The questioner hasn't mentioned the exact kind of a slow walk, hence, I have listed the possibilities. They aren't the same. There are nuances in the meaning conveyed by each of the words. – BlackSwan Jul 3 '17 at 10:44
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    Exactly my point. They are three separate answers. Posting separately allows the OP to select the one that best suits them. – Chenmunka Jul 3 '17 at 10:51
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    @AndyT : It turns out that in general, the consensus is in favour of separate answers. english.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5126/… . – Martin Bonner Jul 3 '17 at 12:34
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    While I'm not fond of multiple answers myself, when the answer lays out the different usage of very different words they're much better with me - or alternatively if they are for nearly the same way to address a way of expressing things. An answer posted as a situational possibility is better for me than an answer proposed without qualification of when it should be chosen – Tom22 Jul 3 '17 at 14:51

Dawdle:

move slowly and idly in a particular direction.

en.oxforddictionaries.com

This is the word I would use.

  • 1
    This one works for me, even though dawdle means as much absence of concerted effort and perhaps delay, as its moving definition. It works better with the 'without knowing what I was doing' example, and would also work better with someone described as moving annoyingly slowly but not in a deliberate style. – Tom22 Jul 3 '17 at 14:43
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    Ian- Your answer will likely be better accepted by the community if you include a reference for your answer. Online dictionaries work well. – thomj1332 Jul 3 '17 at 15:18
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    dawdled towards her does not make sense. Dawdling is dawdling and takes no object. I can't understand why this got so many upvotes. – Lambie Jul 5 '17 at 12:44
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    While it seems some (not even all!) dictionaries have a definition that includes movement like this, I haven't seen it used in that way. It's much more common for dawdle to imply, if anything, a lack of movement (at least towards the end goal). – Kevin Jul 5 '17 at 18:06
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    Dawdle doesn't describe walking specifically, even by connotation. It's all sorts of actions that delay movement towards a goal; when a small child is dawdling, they may be crawling, they may be investigating a toy instead of going to get ready for bed, etc. It can describe walking slowly, but that's only one of a set of things it describes. – ShadowRanger Jul 5 '17 at 22:27

If it's done in a relaxed and leisurely manner, then you "moseyed toward her".

From Cambridge:

to walk or go slowly, usually without a special purpose:

I'll just mosey on down to the beach for a while.

I'd say the closest synonym is "saunter" (and it's the first word I thought of when I came across this question but saw that I'd been beaten to it) and I'd also say it's perhaps more common in AmE than BrE.

  • 1
    this one, like 'amble' seems far too 'us western' ... whether that was it's origin or not, it became almost a comic reference as I hear it used. – Tom22 Jul 3 '17 at 14:39
  • Yeah, I looked it up a bit further and it's definitely an 'Old West' era sort of word. – Nobilis Jul 3 '17 at 15:17
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    I like mosey a hell of a lot better than amble. – Knotell Jul 5 '17 at 12:40
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    @Kevin sure, I'm not trying to hide that but the level of intent implied is debatable – Nobilis Jul 5 '17 at 19:49
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    I vote for this one. I live in Texas, and down here we mosey all the time. – Omegacron Jul 6 '17 at 17:56

My proposes:

Without knowing what I was doing, I drifted toward her.

[with adverbial of direction] Walk slowly, aimlessly, or casually. Definition from Oxford Dictionary

Without knowing what I was doing, I tended toward her.

[no object, with adverbial] Go or move in a particular direction. Definition from Oxford Dictionary

Edit

I do agree that the second usage is very rare, so maybe a better option would be

I tended to move toward her

  • @1006a Edited, thank you for finding better references – mpasko256 Jul 3 '17 at 15:46
  • 6
    ▲ for drifted, but both tended and tended to move are considerably off the mark. They do not indicate slowness, and suggest to me that while the overall tendency is toward her there may well be variation. – PJTraill Jul 4 '17 at 21:22
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    I think drifted is the best answer as it is consistent with without knowing, all of the other answers require more awareness from the narrator. – Eric Jul 5 '17 at 6:06
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    Agree with @PJTraill. Drifted fits the usage here perfectly, but tended [to move] very much does not. +1 for the former, -1 for the latter = no vote from me. Incidentally, this is why some suggest posting each suggestion as a separate answer. – Kevin Jul 5 '17 at 18:11

Strolled.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stroll

Definition #2:

to walk in a leisurely or idle manner

I would suggest gravitated:

verb

  1. move towards or be attracted to a person or thing. "young western Europeans will gravitate to Berlin"

  2. [physics] move, or tend to move, towards a centre of gravity or other attractive force.

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=gravitated&oq=gravitated

Your sentence would then be:

Without knowing what I was doing, I gravitated toward her.

Or it may suit to extend the orbit theme with:

Without knowing what I was doing, I gravitated into her sphere of influence.

There's an implication that your character's path is altered by proximity to her, and that the closer their proximity, the faster they move/quicker things happen. This allusion to orbital mechanics may suit your story.

Note there's a follow-on that gravitating too close may lead to a collision. Depending on rest of the story, this may be seen as foreshadowing the impact/destruction of one's way of life/all dinosaurs on earth.

  • 2
    Gravitated is the best word for the given sentence. – Knotell Jul 5 '17 at 12:43

How about sidle?

intransitive v.

To advance in an unobtrusive, furtive, or coy way: swindlers who sidle up to tourists.

wordnik

In your sentence:

Without knowing what I was doing, I sidled toward her.

Examples from the Merriam Webster page:

He sidled up to me and slipped me a note.

She sidled over and whispered, “Do you see that guy?”.

  • 4
    Disagree. By that definition, "sidle" is suggested to be a very deliberate action, and not something you'd do "without knowing what you were doing". – jsheeran Jul 4 '17 at 15:54
  • @jsheeran I regard 'unobtrusive' and 'coy' as the most important words in the definition, that is, something you'd do in a shy manner. I think this fits as with something you'd do without knowing. – icc97 Jul 5 '17 at 7:16
  • hahaha. What a hoot. – Lambie Jul 5 '17 at 12:45

Slightly lateral: when we tell our dog to "sit and stay," but he inches (oops, there's another possibility! :-) ) towards us, we call it "worming" .

  • 2
    Inching sounds like a good idea. Can you add a dictionary definition? – Sumyrda Jul 3 '17 at 13:20
  • squidge/ squadge/squnch are all related variants of inch, with the implication of moving like an inchworm or caterpillar. – Criggie Jul 4 '17 at 0:32

Trudge may be suitable in some contexts.

Trudge: to walk or march steadily and usually laboriously

Amble

Amble: to go at a slow, easy pace

Traipse

Traipse: to walk or go aimlessly or idly or without finding or reaching one's goal

Mope

Mope: to move or act in an aimless way

Linger

Linger: to walk slowly

Drift

Drift: to wander aimlessly

Dilly-dally

Dilly-dally: To idle; dither in an aimless or pointless fashion

Meander

Meander: to wander aimlessly

Wander

Wander: to go aimlessly, indirectly, or casually

  • 5
    You do know that almost a bunch of these words mostly don't work in that sentence, right? You would never linger toward someone. – piojo Jul 6 '17 at 11:05
  • 1
    "Dilly-dally", "mope" and "linger" don't really work, but I guess the others could. – Omegacron Jul 6 '17 at 18:12

'Saunter' has been mentioned but I feel it deserves a proper answer. It's the word I immediately thought of.

to walk about in an idle or leisurely manner

-Merriam-Webster

to walk in a slow and relaxed way, often in no particular direction

-Cambridge Dictionary

Trundle is pretty much perfect for this. In this case, "trundled towards"

from oxforddictionaries.com definition 1.1 :

(of a person) move heavily and slowly. ‘she heard him coughing as he trundled out’

  • 1
    Please quote the relevant definition of that word here, and mention the source by name. – NVZ Jul 3 '17 at 15:15
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    Generally 'trundle' involves wheels - hence trundle bed. I notice you didn't pick definition 1. Imho, that kinda makes trundle not 'pretty much perfect'. – mcalex Jul 4 '17 at 6:57
  • @mcalex I don't see why other uses, even predominant uses, would stop something from being perfect in the context. – Orangesandlemons Jul 4 '17 at 8:08

shuffle - 1. To walk without lifting the feet or with clumsy steps and a shambling gait.

Without knowing what I was doing, I shuffled toward her.

The dictionary I often use gives edged. I like that because that is the way I would approach the edge of a cliff.

To move gradually or hesitantly: The child edged toward the door.

thefreedictionary.com

It introduces an element of danger or fear. Of course it would depend on the context.

  • Aled - please cite your sources, otherwise you breach copyright. If they're online ones please also add a link. I've edited this answer for you, please consider doing the same for your other answers if relevant. – AndyT Jul 6 '17 at 8:32

Dandered - Verb

(Ulster) To walk along with no particular haste.

To dander along the beach.

Synonyms

  • bimble
  • stroll
  • wander

en.wiktionary.org

  • 4
    Please mention the source by name, and include a link to it if it is available online. – NVZ Jul 3 '17 at 15:28

I am surprised nobody has mentioned crawl yet:

to move slowly with the body close to the ground ; the time we had to crawl through a narrow passageway from one cave to another

or

to move slowly ; the weekend traffic on the road to the beach just crawled

  • Crawl might work with to 'move' slowly, but not to 'walk' slowly. – mcalex Jul 4 '17 at 7:00
  • 5
    If you put it in the sentence "I crawled towards her" it sounds more like you're crawling on all fours like a baby, or fully prone in a "commando crawl". – AndyT Jul 4 '17 at 8:34

Stalked verb (used without object)

  1. to pursue or approach prey, quarry, etc., stealthily.

  2. to walk with measured, stiff, or haughty strides: He was so angry he stalked away without saying goodbye.

Like several other answers here, this one will depend heavily on the context of the movement as to whether this is the appropriate type of movement.

  • And with it bring all the implied meanings of being a stalker. Not good. – marcellothearcane Jul 4 '17 at 13:33
  • @marcellothearcane: This answer does say it depends on the context — stalked might just be spot-on! – PJTraill Jul 4 '17 at 21:07
  • @PJTraill everything depends on context. Granted, maybe the OP was looking for a stalker-esque word, but the fact that they have accepted 'amble' (which indicates that it helped them) I doubt it. It might be helpful for other people though... – marcellothearcane Jul 4 '17 at 21:11
  • @PJTraill You could stalk something - say an animal in a forest - by quietly sprinting from behind one tree to another. It definitely does mean "pursue stealthily" (as per defn), but doesn't really imply slowly - unless you are slowly stalking! I don't think this answers the question, sorry. – SusanW Jul 5 '17 at 14:45

Another option is skulk:

To move about stealthily.

thefreedictionary.com

However it does carry a connotation of sneaking out of shame or embarassment. I wouldn't use it if the primary underlying factor is subconscious attraction, but I might if I were trying to additionally impart the subject with shyness or social awkwardness.

  • HonoredMule - please cite your sources, otherwise you breach copyright. If they're online ones please also add a link. I've edited this answer for you, please consider doing the same for your other answers if relevant. – AndyT Jul 6 '17 at 8:34
  • Citing sources does not mean one is not breaching copyright. – Christoffer Hammarström Jul 6 '17 at 13:30
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    @ChristofferHammarström - I never said it did. I'm not a copyright expert, but www.copyrightservice.co.uk does say that fair use may be possible provided "that the source of the quoted material is mentioned". If you're not citing your source then you definitely fall foul of that. If you do cite your source then, with the length of extracts we tend to post on this site, I believe we are generally ok. – AndyT Jul 6 '17 at 13:50

For walk slowly I like Perambulate:

walk or travel through or around a place or area, especially for pleasure > and in a leisurely way.

(similar to meander and saunter)

Though this, and many other answers here, seem to convey a sort of intentional type of slow movement. Your sentence example, wherein the subject seems hypnotized, lends itself more to drift (as is mentioned in AndyT's comment) or perhaps float?

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/perambulate

For me the word that fits is - sashay. From Wordnik 'intransitive v. To walk or proceed, especially in an easy or casual manner.' But the accepted answer is fine too. It all depends on the ambience.

  • 5
    Sashay is to strut, swagger or flounce. It's also got a feminine overtone to it. – tchrist Jul 4 '17 at 2:21
  • 1
    @tchrist - the full definition from your source is "(intransitive) To walk casually or showily; to strut, swagger or flounce.  [quotations ▼]". Is there a reason to omit the relevant bit? – Donagh McCarthy Jul 4 '17 at 9:17

Sorry for the short answer all - I'm more used to Stack Overflow where short answers are treated like royalty :D

Better response:

I still like meander as it has a whimsical connotation - which the provided example seems to be wanting. It was pointed out that prance has an energy to it that makes it incompatible but shuffled is still a decent option, though a bit defeated sounding for OP's example...

Stepped is still workable - just a bit dull.

I would say of my previous suggestions, meander holds up the best.

  • 4
    Welcome to English Language & Usage! We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Please explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed. – NVZ Jul 3 '17 at 15:33
  • Not prance. Prancing is leaping sprightly, with 'springy' steps - not slow walking. – mcalex Jul 4 '17 at 7:03
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    You might want to include actual definitions or, at the very least, links to definitions in online dictionaries. I usually use the Oxford Dictionaries. – Roger Sinasohn Jul 4 '17 at 17:08
  • Y'all are picky over here!! Joking, joking. If someone in stack overflow wanted the definition of basic linguistic principle in Python we'd generally tell them to go learn the fundamentals of the language then come back and ask. I assume most users are at least fluent in the language yes? Maybe just a different culture but most SO users are expert or near so we wouldn't define simple terms or define principles which should be understood prior to asking for help - I'm new here and trying to learn ;) – MJHd Jul 4 '17 at 17:15
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    You give your opinions on the words, but not how they actually work. Imagine answering a question about what function to chose and saying "print might be what you want but it's a bit dull". I don't think people would find that too helpful. For a single-word-requests answer, you need to explain how the word you suggest works in the given context. Why would you pick any of the words you suggest over another. Certainly dullness could be a criteria, but I think in this context the shades of nuance in meaning are more pertinent. – Matt E. Эллен Jul 5 '17 at 20:47

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