Imagine the cops are looking for a criminal. That criminal is hiding but not for long in one place. He is changing places all over the world and continuously hiding . What is the correct word or phrasal verb for this? "The criminal is roaming worldwide" is wrong I believe as this sentence would mean that he is on a happy vacation seeing places. So, what is the correct word? Please advise.

  • Maybe skulking. Or maybe you’re looking for on the lam?
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 16:37
  • Welcome to EL&U! Your question may be considered a [single-word-request], one of many here on EL&U. For these kind of questions it is generally recommended to provide a sentence with a gap to help with understanding the question, e.g. "When I poke a jelly and it makes a wavy motion, it is _____.", to which the answer may be "wobbling". Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 16:55
  • Please tag your question as single word request.
    – Lordology
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 17:03

3 Answers 3


On the run

As in:

Edward Snowden was on the run from the US government after leaking NSA documents.

This is the more modern way of saying on the lam.


I don't think there's any one-word way to say this. "On the lam" is OK but pretty dated (1930s). "The criminal is staying undercover and roaming worldwide" is long but fairly racy and idiomatic. If you want it to be even more raacy, change "criminal" to "perp" (cop-talk for "perpetrator").

  • Wait till you get the privilege to post comments. This is not an answer.
    – Kris
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 7:49

to go to ground OED

fig. (of a person), to withdraw from public notice and live quietly or ‘lie low’.

the literal is of a hunted fox ... ducking underground.

As in your example:

"The criminal is roaming worldwide, unseen, having gone to ground."


1964 Ann. Reg. 1963 326 The four men ‘went to ground’, probably in Johannesburg.

From Longman's go to ground: B(BrE)

to make it hard for people to find you

wherever you are, usually for a long while.


  • I would have said that 'going to ground' strongly suggests being in one place for the duration, as in a burrow or den, rather than flitting about all over.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 17:08
  • @Spagirl I respectfully disagree.
    – lbf
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 17:17

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