They are padding the street.
People are padding the street.

I came across this word recently. I'm not sure whether I understood the usage of it. The dictionary says it means "to travel on foot; walk." If that's the case, can I use this word in all the places I where I used the word "walk" or "walking". Does the word fit in my above sample sentences?

Why can't just use the word 'walk' instead? How does the word pad differs from walk? What difference it makes?

  • 1
    Usually it takes a preposition- one pads up, down, along, beside... a path
    – Jim
    Mar 14, 2014 at 2:17
  • @Jim So I should say "People are padding along the street"?
    – T2E
    Mar 14, 2014 at 2:18
  • @Jim Why can't just use the word 'walk' instead? How does the word pad differs from walk? What difference it makes?
    – T2E
    Mar 14, 2014 at 2:19
  • 2
    Usually you use pad when you wish to call attention to a person's footwear or perhaps the softness of the ground a person is walking on. I think I hear it most often in the context of small children wearing "footed" pajamas padding down the hall to their rooms. Or maybe a bear padding down a forest trail. But the context should somehow relate to walking softly on "pads" of some sort.
    – Jim
    Mar 14, 2014 at 2:22
  • 2
    Ok, then don't use trudging but just as my three suggestions emphasized different aspects of walking, padding, I think, emphasizes the sound that is made (or sometimes the lack of sound) when walking.
    – Jim
    Mar 14, 2014 at 2:36

3 Answers 3


Why can't I just use the word 'walk' instead?

Actually, you can use "walk" instead, and for everyday usage, you should. This definition of "pad" is technically valid, but it is specialized and rarely used.

How does the word pad differ from walk? What difference does it make?

When I do see "pad" used this way, it is almost always referring to an animal, not a human. And not just any animal, but one with soft contact surfaces (i.e. pads) on the feet, such as dogs or bears. You would never use "pad" to describe the movement of a horse or chicken.

When used for a human, "pad" refers to a quiet and/or stealthy walk, not just any walk.

Does the word fit in my sample sentences?

Not quite. If you do find a case where it makes sense to use pad, imagine how the sentence would be written with "walk" and then use the same form of "pad" in instead.

* People are walking the street

is incorrect because it is missing a preposition. Instead, you might say

People are walking/padding down the street


No, you cannot use pad everywhere you use walk. That's because...

You'd use padding in two cases -

padding (v) - Walk heavily and firmly, as when weary, or through mud OR Walk quietly, esp. barefoot or with soft footwear.

It depends on the context how you want to use them.

However, take care that if you use it, it'd take adverb/preposition after it.

She padded across the room to the window.


No, IMHO you should not use the word 'padding' for walking at all.

Many reasons for this.

  • People will not understand what you are talking about because padding has so many other meanings and not all of them are mentionable in a social context :)
  • Padding means heavy walking, like a bear does. It is a specific gait.
  • The use of padding sounds like a person with a small vocabulary has opted for the word that first jumped to their mind rather than going for the more appropriate term.

Personally, I do not recommend using this word in the context of walking, especially since there are so many other specific words to be used for this act.

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