I want to say that the cat walks under the table, but also that he entered on the one side and exitted on the other side. It is not that he is just walking around beneath the table.

So the cat is not doing this:

enter image here

But doing this:

enter image description here

What is the correct way of describing this?

  • 3
    The only thing that comes to mind is "the cat passed under the table" – ColleenV Sep 18 '14 at 14:15
  • @ColleenV "passed" can work. But what if I wanted to specify the way in which he is doing it. Lets say crawling or jumping – B for Bolfin Sep 18 '14 at 14:42
  • 3
    I agree it's not a great choice, which is why I didn't make it an answer. Maybe a little more context would help spark some ideas. You could say "The cat dashed under the table and out the other side." – ColleenV Sep 18 '14 at 15:07
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    I think "through-neath" is an AWESOME coinage, and I'm going to adopt it forthwith! – Codeswitcher Sep 18 '14 at 23:50

The cat walks under the table.

could be interpreted as either of the scenarios you've depicted in your two sketches.

If you want to eliminate ambiguity, so that it's clear which of the scenarios you mean, you could say:

The cat goes under the table and walks out the other end.

  • Sure, I understand. It just seems so unnecessarily long though. Was hoping there is an old word that went extinct long ago, which would have the same meaning as "through-neath" – B for Bolfin Sep 19 '14 at 7:16

I would actually interpret "the cat walked under the table" as indicating that it entered on one side and left on the other. "the cat walked underneath the table" sounds a bit strange to me. That's everyday usage, partially driven by context that makes walking around and around in circles under a table a bit strange, even for cats. I'm not sure what the formal rules are here.

  • 1
    Wouldn't "walked underneath" simply imply that it stayed there? – Maciej Stachowski Sep 18 '14 at 16:29
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    I think it's closer to indicating that the cat stayed there than 'under', but it's probably a bit ambiguous. I'd say "Walked around underneath the table" to imply that it was going in circles under the table. – James Picone Sep 18 '14 at 16:34

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