Is there a single word in English describing a sideway movement when one is walking with his back along a ledge?

One can see this frequently in movies. A person is high up on a building or in mountains and the ledge is so narrow one has to be with his back to the building/mountain and move slowly sideways.

  • In actual practice, people face inwards, even Harold Lloyd. Climbers call this 'traversing' – Phil Sweet Aug 13 '17 at 19:05

He sidled along the ledge.

moving sideways or obliquely.

  • In my mind at least, sidling implies a certain level of sneakiness. – Marthaª Jan 4 '13 at 19:36
  • A cute enough usage: "Sidling up to Uncle John" [Jason Levine ('delfuego')] flickr.com/photos/queso/3937350165 – Kris Jan 6 '13 at 6:29
  • 1
    There's symantics, there's pragmatics, and then there's indeed 'in my mind at least'. – Kris Jan 6 '13 at 12:53

One could edge along the ledge. This implies the sideways movement, as well as the cautiousness.

17. to move sideways: to edge through a crowd.

18. to advance gradually or cautiously: a car edging up to a curb.

Although inching doesn't imply one's back is against the wall, it does imply the careful movement one would exhibit.

Perhaps use both!

He edged along, inching his way back to the window.


There is also the word inched, meaning to move along slowly and carefully.

He inched along the ledge.


I looked up slide in the dictionary, which NOAD defined as:

move along a smooth surface while maintaining continuous contact

That seems to fit, but the word itself conjures images of sliding down a slide, or sliding across some ice. However, the thesaurus entry for slide had some promising candidates, including creep and slink.

I might go with something like carefully crept, or cautiously slid.


You can start making compounds like 'sidelong' "toward the side," 1570s, alteration of Middle English sidlyng (see sidle) - OED Bo turned and walked sidelong pulling the leash as heels clicked with a skip to glance behind, he then canted back forward with a tug.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.