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by Liz Walter
Today’s post looks at ways of talking about the speed at which people, vehicles, or other things move. Many of the items in this post can also be used figuratively, for instance to describe the speed of change or progress.
The motorcade drove at a sedate pace towards the palace.
They continued their shopping at an unhurried pace.
Sluggish is slightly more negative and implies reluctance or a lack of energy. Something moving at a snail’s pace is going very slowly and glacial describes an even more extreme slowness. We might also say that something extremely slow is agonizingly or painfully slow:
He played the sonata at a rather sluggish pace.
These ships travel at a snail’s pace compared to modern vessels.
We were frustrated by the glacial speed of the legal process.
The pace of change has been agonizingly slow.
He started the race at a blistering pace.
A simple way of saying that something, especially a vehicle, is moving fast is that it is moving at speed. If it is going as fast as possible, it is at full speed or – more informally – going flat out. Other emphatic phrases include lightning speed and breakneck speed, which often implies recklessness, while a person going as fast as their legs will carry them is running as fast as they can:
The vehicle came towards us at speed.
We won’t get there in under three hours, even if we go flat out.
She came down the stairs at breakneck speed.
They ran off as fast as their legs would carry them.
Responses to cold water include rapid breathing.
Swift action was needed to stop the spread of the disease.
Trains in the area have to crawl along because of the ancient tracks.
If you found this post useful, you could also take a look at Kate Woodford’s post about walking and running, which covers some more vocabulary related to this topic.