still (adv): without moving : without motion

Sit still. It'll just take a minute.

She stood very still.

pause [intransitive]: to stop talking or doing something for a short time before continuing

Anita paused for a moment, then said: ‘All right’.

The woman spoke almost without pausing for breath (= very quickly).

I paused at the door and looked back.

Pausing only to pull on a sweater, he ran out of the house.

So, What would we use "People stand still" or "People pause" or other terms if the time stopped completely (like in Sci-Fi movies)?


A common verb for OP's context is metaphoric People froze (...were frozen in place, etc.).

freeze (Merriam-Webster, definition 4)
- to become fixed or motionless
especially, to become incapable of acting or speaking

With specific reference to OP's like in Sci-Fi movies, it's also worth noting the cinematography-based term...

freeze-frame (Merriam-Webster)
- a frame of a motion-picture film that is repeated so as to give the illusion of a static picture

  • so, freeze is both transitive & intransitive? "People froze & People were frozen" are 2 legitimate sentences? – Tom Nov 2 '19 at 14:52
  • I don't think transitive / intransitive is a useful concept when considering usages like I'm frozen! or I'm freezing! They're essentially just participles used adjectivally - where the past participle usage carries no significant nuance of me having been "passively" frozen by some unspecified agency. The difference between He froze and He was frozen is essentially that the first refers to an action (as with He shivered, He stopped), the second to a state, condition (as with He was cold, He was motionless). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 2 '19 at 15:09

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