Walking and in a mood? There's a verb for that

These synonyms for walking make it clear: Your walking style and your mood are closely linked.

Photo: AntonioGuillem/iStock

When you walk, your state of mind is expressed through the body language of posture and gait. That walking style, in turn, is described by a rich verbal language of striding, strolling, ambling, rambling, roving, roaming, stamping, stomping, and galumphing. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most psychologically evocative synonyms for walking.


Angry


When you flounce out of a room, your quick steps and dramatic arm movements communicate that you’re angry, offended, or impatient. When you stamp or stomp, loud, heavy steps send the message that you’re angry or frustrated; it’s like yelling with your feet. And when you storm out of a meeting, you express how angry or upset you are by walking away quickly.


Upbeat


Depending on how it’s used, bounce sometimes means to walk in a happy, energetic manner. Prance also suggests lively walking, but in an attention-seeking way that may annoy others.

Lewis Carroll coined the word galumph in his poem “Jabberwocky,” perhaps by merging gallop and triumph. According to Merriam Webster, the word originally implied “a sense of exultant bounding.” Today, however, it means to lumber along with loud, heavy, clumsy steps.

Relaxed


Both amble and saunter refer to walking in a slow, relaxed manner. Similarly, stroll suggests that you’re walking at a leisurely, unhurried pace, often for no purpose other than pleasure. Mosey also means moving slowly and aimlessly, but it has a decidedly folksy (or faux-folksy) sound.


Cautious


Some walking words have both narrow, literal meanings and broader, figurative ones. Tiptoe, for example, can mean either to walk quietly on the balls of your feet or, more broadly, to move or act with caution and stealth. Pussyfoot can mean to tread softly and carefully as a cat or, more generally, to be nervous and hesitant to act.


Confident


When you stride down the sidewalk or into a room, you’re taking long steps that project confidence, boldness, and energy. Strut and swagger suggest that you’re walking with a mixture of confidence and pride; taken too far, the posturing can come across as vain or cocky. Sashay also implies that you’re strutting your stuff, but with an air of studied nonchalance.


Unfettered


Wander means to move freely from place to place, often with no destination or purpose in mind. Ramble is similar, but it’s specific to the countryside. Roam suggests that you’re wandering aimlessly over a long distance, while rove implies that you’re wandering around a specified locale.


These alternate words for walking are a great two-for-one deal, indicating both a physical action and a psychological state in a single verb. Concise and precise. But if you simply want to convey that you’re putting one foot in front of the other, you can’t go wrong with walk.


About the author


Linda Wasmer Andrews is a freelance health and psychology writer.