Strike A Pose: Positions and Posture

These words describe all sorts of ways that we move, rest, or arrange our limbs. Don't just stand there, let's get to it!
Read more...

Start learning with an activity...

  • Practice

    Answer a few questions on each word. Get one wrong? We'll ask some follow-up questions. Use it to prep for your next quiz!
  • Spelling Bee

    Test your spelling acumen. See the definition, listen to the word, then try to spell it correctly. Beat your last streak, or best your overall time. Spellers of the world, untie!
  • Vocabulary Jam

    Compete head-to-head in real-time to see which team can answer the most questions correctly. Start a Jam and invite your friends and classmates to join!

Explore the Words

definitions & notes only words
  1. abduction
    moving of a body part away from the central axis of the body
    Abduction and adduction are two terms that are used to describe movements towards or away from the midline of the body.
    Abduction means kidnapping, forcibly carrying someone away. But in an anatomical context, it has a different meaning: moving part of your body away from your center. Adduction is its opposite: pulling your limbs back towards your center.
  2. akimbo
    with hands on hips and elbows extending outward
    With his arms akimbo and his chin turned artfully to the side, he looked as if he were posing in a bodybuilding lineup.New York Times (May 11, 2020)
  3. attitude
    the arrangement of the body and its limbs
    She assumed an attitude of prayer, looked at the icons, repeated the words of a prayer, but she could not pray.
    Attitude means "mindset:" your demeanor and emotional state in a given moment or regarding a particular subject. In terms of your body, attitude has a similar meaning: your pose, posture, or any way in which your position reveals something about your mood.
  4. bearing
    characteristic way of holding one's body
    With his aristocratic bearing, he seemed to be made of marble and standing on a pedestal.Washington Post (Feb 13, 2020)
    Bearing can mean "carrying," and it can also mean "direction," specifically in terms of navigation using a compass. But your bearing can also describe, literally, the way you carry yourself.
  5. carriage
    characteristic way of bearing one's body
    In ballet, there is a sort of tuning the mind in to the place on its dial that monitors the body’s placement and carriage.Slate (Jan 20, 2020)
    Like bearing, above, carriage literally refers to the way you carry yourself: the ways in which your posture, movements, and gait make you unique and shed some light on your character or nature.
  6. extension
    act of stretching or straightening out a flexed limb
    When you contract your triceps, your arm straightens and the angle between the forearm and the upper arm increases; this is called " extension."
  7. flex
    bend a joint
    “You want to flex different muscles but still maintain some of the things they look to you for in casting,” he says.The Guardian (Jun 13, 2020)
  8. gait
    an animal's manner of moving
    He seemingly mimicked their gait and moves, their posture and their vocalisations.The Guardian (May 7, 2020)
    Gait is a Scottish version of the Germanic gate, used to mean "way," "street," or "path," but also the manner of walking or movement: the particularities of a person's stride that make it recognizable or noteworthy.
  9. genuflect
    bend the knees and bow in a servile manner
    “Too often we just ignore China's aggression, genuflecting before the throne of free markets,” he said.Los Angeles Times (Jun 4, 2019)
    Literally meaning "bend the knee" in Latin — for all you Game of Thrones fans out there — genuflect refers specifically to the act of kneeling and crossing oneself in the Catholic church and also generally to any act of subservience before a powerful person or institution.
  10. kowtow
    bend the knees and bow in a servile manner
    “South Korea is gagging us, who are its citizens, while kowtowing to the evil regime in the North,” said Mr. Park, who leads a group called Fighters for Free North Korea.New York Times (Jun 11, 2020)
    Similar in meaning to genuflect, kowtow is Chinese, and describes a kneeling bow where the top of the head touches the floor: a display of complete submission.
  11. poise
    a state of being balanced in a stable equilibrium
    The orchestra is poised, ready, hands on instruments, eyes on me.Nature (Jun 8, 2020)
    Poise comes from the Anglo-Norman poiser, meaning "to weigh." An old-fashioned balance — a scale for weighing things — has two baskets or trays. When the two trays are level, both sides weigh the same. Poise refers to balance, and also to gracefulness, especially under pressure.
  12. posture
    the arrangement of the body and its limbs
    The transformation is striking, not just her body and posture, but her face, too, becomes radiant.The Guardian (Jun 12, 2020)
  13. prone
    lying face downward
    The video then shows Brooks prone on the ground.Reuters (Jun 13, 2020)
  14. prostrate
    stretched out and lying at full length along the ground
    The other will be a prostrate George Floyd, whose excruciating Memorial Day execution sparked a global protest movement against racism and police violence.The Guardian (Jun 8, 2020)
    Prostrate is like prone, meaning flat on your stomach, but often with the connotation of submission as opposed to prone being a simple description of a pose.
  15. slouch
    assume a drooping posture or carriage
    But Letts gets the nod for an unshowy performance that seized attention with every passive-aggressive slouch and grimace while illuminating the power dynamics of a marriage in a modern masterpiece that suddenly seemed newly understood.Los Angeles Times (Jun 4, 2020)
  16. squat
    sit on one's heels
    In his garage, he’ll squat a little more than 500 pounds, do a few sets of lunges holding 70-pound weights in each hand, and other workouts.Washington Times (Jun 14, 2020)
    Esquatir is Old French for "to crush," "to flatten," or "to squash." It also describes the way rabbits sit: crouched, low to the ground.
  17. stance
    standing posture
    As children we imitated a favorite batting stance, pitching motion or even hairstyle, somehow believing this would miraculously transfuse our heroes’ skill into our circulation.New York Times (May 1, 2020)
    Stance can be literal or figurative: the way you stand, or where you stand on a particular issue.
  18. stoop
    bend one's back forward from the waist on down
    He suffered permanent injuries and was left with a slight stoop in his walk and with a disfigured hand.Reuters (May 27, 2020)
  19. straddle
    sit or stand astride of
    Mr. Scott repeatedly says, “OK” and “I can’t breathe” as officers handcuff him, one straddling his back, and then moving down to his leg.New York Times (Jun 11, 2020)
    Straddle comes from the same Old English root as stride.
  20. supine
    lying face upward
    Mr. Lobner said that even in an ordinary nuclear submarine, clearances in the battery compartment are so narrow that a routine inspection often requires shimmying through in a prone or supine position.New York Times (Apr 20, 2020)
    The opposite of prone, supine means laying on your back. It comes from the Latin supinus, meaning the same thing.
Created on June 4, 2020 (updated June 18, 2020)

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.