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You know the confusion that happens when you're walking down the street, there's someone coming from other direction, you decide to go (your) left they decide to go (their) right, and then you decide to go (your) right then they decide go (their) left and so on? Is there a standard expression that describes that situation? What would a native English speaker say?

  • Specifically for that situation. Let me edit the question to be clearer. – user19057 Jun 3 '15 at 8:49
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    This topic was dicussed on ELU SE: english.stackexchange.com/questions/32246/… – Brian Hitchcock Jun 3 '15 at 9:11
  • wow @BrianHitchcock, thanks for sharing this. will remember this word forever! :) – Maulik V Jun 3 '15 at 9:15
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    Just wondering, is there a word for this in your native language? – Ast Pace Jun 4 '15 at 1:30
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    @ASTPace: Yeah, sort of. I speak Kannada and We don't have a fixed expression for that. But we normally say "hing-hogada, hang-hogada" which literally translates to "should I go this way or should I go that way". It's a highly tonal language so that comes into play as well. – user19057 Jun 4 '15 at 4:23
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The word is 'droitwich'

DROITWICH (n.) The uncomfortable phenomenon when two people meet while walking and attempt to pass only to have both persons go in the same direction, thus each continuing to block the path of the other. The occurrence is usually brief but unsettling enough to cause grievance and annoyance in one or both parties (or however many are involved).

Two other expressions include: "the get-past-you shuffle" and "the pavement tango"


Thanks to Brian Hitchcock for getting me the link (-z7sg Ѫ's excellent answer). I posted this answer so that the users can read and learn. Comments are often ignored/overlooked especially those who are new here.

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When your mind repeatedly switches between alternative decisions, it is said to vacillate.

This doesn't specifically apply to the walking down the road scenario but to any situation in which you repeatedly switch decisions before settling on one or the other.

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According to Stephan Pastis in his comic strip Pearls Before Swine the word is schlumperdink.

In the strip from early December 2012:

Pig tells Goat, "ME AND MY COUSIN PULLED A SCHLUMPERDINK THIS MORNING."

Goat replies, "WHAT'S THAT?"

Pig explains, "IT'S WHEN TWO GUYS ARE ABOUT TO WALK INTO EACH OTHER. SO ONE GUY MOVES TO THE SIDE, BUT THEN THE OTHER GUY MOVES TO THE SAME SIDE. THEN THEY BOTH MOVE TO THE OTHER SIDE, AND ON AND ON."

Goat sympathizes, "WELL, THAT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE, PIG...WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?"

Pig, "IT LASTED FOR FOUR HOURS."

Goat, "NEVER MIND."

Pig's punchline, "WHOEVER SAID PIGS ARE SMART NEVER MET MY FAMILY."

It appears that humorists (see Droitwich) are in an ongoing battle to supply the world with a word that will be universally applied to this hitherto unnamed common occurrence.

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