I have semantic chaos in my head. 'Crawl', 'crouch', 'creep', 'cower' — those words come to my head when I'm thinking about a hunting, say, tiger. Often, when I need to express some meaning, a whole thesaurus (or something that feels like one) pops up in my mind instead of one specific and accurate word that I'm seeking. The problem is the words constituting such a thesaurus are melted together into a shapeless ugly clump in my head and it's difficult for me to separate them from one another. I can look them up in dictionaries but: 1) the knowledge doesn't last long, unfortunately; 2) often, dictionaries don't do a good job spelling out semantic and usage differences between words with similar meanings. "How can I fix this problem?" — this is your additional question you may not answer. The main question, in line with the title, is what should I write in place of the blanks.

The tiger slowly approached the gazelle, ____ing, ready to attack at any moment.

The tiger (slowly) _____ed to the gazelle, ready to attack at any moment.

  • 1
    Stalking/stalked? Creeping/crept? Prepared to pounce? Poised to pounce/jump/attack? – shin Dec 9 '19 at 10:50
  • Stalk! That's what I was futilely trying to remember! – Sergey Zolotarev Dec 9 '19 at 10:57

"Crouch" would be the most common word for a stalking animal in a still position, as in crouching tiger.

An animal moving whilst maintaining a crouching position is either stalking or possibly slinking.


English is so lexically rich that it is frequently idiotic to say that X is the only suitable word. In this case, a word that is certainly among those that fit is "stalk."

EDIT: In response to the comment below, "crouch" does indeed imply being still, but it also implies a specific body posture. "Hide" and "lurk" also come to mind as implying stillness without implying a specific posture.

  • What about describing a static state? Is it 'crouch' or what? – Sergey Zolotarev Dec 9 '19 at 11:00

I think these are possible answers. I will add references when I have the time later: stalking/stalked; creeping/crept; prepared to pounce; and poised to pounce/jump/attack.


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