3

How to describe the walk of a man with an artificial leg? People with artificial legs don't walk in the same way as a normal person. What are non-offensive words that can be used to describe their walk?

2
  • Describe "the walk of a man with an artificial leg" to what audience? Are you talking to his doctor? Is he a fictional character in a book? Are you describing him in a police report? These different contexts could influence the answer considerably.
    – Walter
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 14:20
  • Not both. Just to describe in a story when the character first appears.
    – T2E
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 13:15

5 Answers 5

2

As I understand it, a person with an artificial leg often walks with a jerky gait. Sometimes it might be better described as a stiff gait, but the general principle would be that so long as whatever you put in front of gait doesn't have too many offensive connotations, just use any normal word that fits the particular person's way of walking (it will vary, obviously).

The artificial leg gave Carl a jerky gait, but he moved with a deliberate air.

You might get away with saying they walk with a slight limp, but limp isn't normally a very positive word.

7
  • Got it. How does the following sentence look? He walks with a stiff hobbling gait since one of his legs is artificial.
    – T2E
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 23:53
  • 2
    @T2E: I'd avoid artificial. Try something more like this: Because of his prosthetic leg, he walks with a stiff hobbling gait. You can also use prosthesis if you'd prefer to shorten it to one word.
    – J.R.
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 1:47
  • 3
    I totally disagree that the word "limp" is in any way negative. If it's accurate, use it. If it's not accurate, don't use it.
    – Martha
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 2:50
  • @J.R. What is the reason, you are suggesting to avoid the word 'artificial'? I see prosthetic means artificial body part. Can you please tell me the reason?
    – T2E
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 4:56
  • @T2E: I imagine J.R. is influenced by the fact that prosthetic is a relatively "clinical" term (far less well-known than artificial leg). Someone else upvoted the comment, so obviously there are at least two people who think artificial has negative connotations here, but I don't think most people would take that position. Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 5:27
7

I'm going to go ahead and post this as an answer: the correct word to use for describing how someone with a limp walks is, guess what: limp.

As J.R. mentioned, anything that is more graphic — such as jerky — is much more likely to come across as, well, maybe not outright offensive, but certainly approaching it. This isn't because jerky is an offensive word (it's not - there's a world of difference between "word that describes an unpleasant concept" and "offensive word"), but because it's not the usual, everyday word one expects to hear in such a context. It calls attention to a defect, rather than merely describing it.


(I've never been quite sure what a rolling gait is supposed to look like, but I do know it's most often used for someone who spends most of his time in a boat, and thus has a hard time adapting his gait to dry land. It does not, to me, imply any unevenness or lopsidedness; whereas for most people with prosthetic legs, the defining feature of their gait is the fact that one of their legs is not like the other.)

1
  • I like 'stiff gait'.
    – T2E
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 13:17
2

Hobble is also an alternative. Like limp it is understood by the majority of native and non-native speakers. I might also use the word after I've banged my toe against something hard, and instinctively hop around the room. Later, if my big toe is still hurting, I would hobble about.

1
  • Hobble implies (much) less mobility than limp, but there are certainly cases where it's the more descriptive word.
    – Martha
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 13:25
0

This is sometimes described as a rolling gait:

That and the stick he used and the slow, rolling gait of a man who made do with an artificial leg after an above-the-knee amputation meant no one near him said a word about it.

1
  • Rolling gait is a specific description of how a specific man walked because of an artificial leg. It's by no means a general description of how everyone who has an artificial leg walks.
    – Walter
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 14:25
0

A fancy, politically correct term for a person who walks artificially would be "orthopedically, challenged."

1
  • 4
    1. I don't think anyone would ever use that except if they were being facetious. 2. This describes the person, not the way they walk.
    – Martha
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 21:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .