What is a single word that describes the back and forth way a leaf falls to the ground? I don’t think float or flutter quite capture the movement. Does ‘sway’ or ‘oscillate’ convey the image?
I have often found myself in situations where I've felt the dire need of a word that describes this leaf-like motion. The words sway and oscillate are synonymous to words which describe a motion which can be predefined, or carries itself in a steady, predictive way.
A typical example of sway that many poets use is for branches, which sway back and forth with the wind, with [almost] definitive movements, which isn't the case of falling leaves.
And an epitome of oscillation can be found in an ECG. But the movement in an oscillation has sharp, jagged corners, which is unlike the smooth descension that a leaf would take.
That leaves me to expound one word that I think limns the movement the most accurately out of the other two: waver. It is synonymous to sway, but also satisfies the element of how unsteady the movement can be.
2a : to weave or sway unsteadily to and fro : REEL, TOTTER
b : QUIVER, FLICKER //wavering flames