I am trying to build a vocabulary describing things falling in water. There are three aspects to it: a) the act of dropping or throwing the object; b) the movement of the object in the water, which could sink or float; c) the movement of water because of the object's impact. The objects could be anything ranging from a piece of cork to an asteroid for all I care.

I have already used some terms: drop/throw, sink/float. I made a little search in thesaurus but, here, I would like to leverage the sensitivity of the community fellows to nuances between similar terms. For example: subtle differences, if any, re a between falling, dropping and suchlike; re b, between plunging, diving and suchlike; re c, between splashing, surging, and so forth.

Word suggestions accompanied by such explanations and caveats will be most appreciated.

Note I am not interested in scientific rigour, rather in the descriptive/evocative meaning for a lay readership/audience.

Note The post topic branches off in many possible answers. I do not expect answers with full coverage, for sure. Anyone interested please pick up the aspects that resonate the most.

  • I am concerned that the question is too broad. Suggesting such words could be a labour of many months. Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 11:17
  • @OrbitalAussie Every little helps, though. I could splt over different posts, but it would then lack unity. I do not expect answers covering the full range (added) Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 12:06
  • It's purely a matter of artistic choice.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 13:43

2 Answers 2

  • "Rippling."
  • Perhaps "cannonballing" such as when someone jumps in a pool with knees drawn to chest;
  • "belly-flop" or "belly smacker" when someone lands flat on their belly and face jumping into water;
  • "churning" self explanatory;
  • "eddying" which is more the counter current movement of water beyond fixed objects such as rocks;
  • "geyser" as I suppose water can do when a large object is dropped;
  • "spray";
  • "plop" as with small objects entering water;
  • "splatter" though usually one thinks of thicker fluids than water;
  • "pelt" as one could throw multiple small objects into the water;
  • "skip" as with a flat rock skimming the surface more than once when thrown nearly parallel with the water surface;
  • "pour" - I suppose you could pour sand, salt, or a collection of pebbles etc. into water;
  • "dissolve" in addition to the sink or float options you mentioned;
  • "buoyant"; "suspended" if describing an object hovering just below the surface;
  • "founder" - to fill with water and sink, usually a ship, but could happen to a dropped concave object I suppose;
  • "calving" when speaking of a chunk of glacier falling into the water;
  • "tumbling" for sizable falling object(s);
  • "crumbling"; "sliding"; "toppling"; "rolling"; "avalanche";
  • "plunk" which I would consider a sharper sound than a plop, "plunk" could also be used as a verb to throw something into the water.

Didn't really address nuances much but maybe there is one tidbit in this.

  • Thanks for thinking along. I had attempted to introduce the structure of the question in the answers (see english.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/359970). It would still be helpful to know if that division reflects your intents correctly and all entries click into the right places. Commented Jan 19, 2020 at 14:37
  • @XavierStuvw you cannot delete a question once it has received an answer that would be unfair to Beverly Tiding who has supplied a good list of relevant verbs. P.S a moderator is someone with a diamond next to their username, see english.stackexchange.com/users?tab=moderators
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 17:16
  • @Xavier I mean the system doesn't allow any author to delete their question once it has been answered.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 19:12
  • @Mari-LouA I see, thanks for informing me. Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 19:31

Well, it seems you already did some homework. My take, coming from a fluid mechanics background: adhere to prevalent terminology, this way people understand quicker what you are talking about, and it makes your document resurface (nice fluid mechanics term) in search engines with the correct phrases.

E.g: falling drop, breaking dam, driven cavity are common scenario's for fluid simulations. Calling them otherwise may impede reader understanding.

  • Appreciated. This contribution prompted me to add that I am not interested in scientific rigour and jargon. I imagine a lay readership and would want to elicit the nuances and imagery conjured up by certain word choices. Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 10:31
  • This doesn’t even come close to answering the question. Although I worry nothing will. Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 11:15

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