How to tickle your reader’s brain with motion words

Break dancing, motion, crowd, standing on hand, plant, kick, lifting himself up.

Plant your hand on the floor. Lift yourself up. Hang upside-down. Kick the air. Balance your teetering body.

So what the HECK is a “motion word”?

Whoa, whoa. Listen, I wish there were some existing term for this.

But I always land on “motion word.”

Define: Motion word

Noun. A verb describing physical motion you can experience with your own body.


  • GET is not a motion word. GRAB is.
  • GO is not. STEP INTO is (and a motion phrase at that).

Some A/B tests up this alley might spew out some interesting numbers.

For example,

Control: “Get your free e-book”

Variable/Experiment: “Snag your free e-book”

This has probably been done. If you have a source for it, let me know!




Remember that time you rode a roller coaster? In constant motion, you felt giddy.

But remember that kid in the booth operating the ride with a mic?

He had to stand in one spot all day. Bored out of his mind, he felt unhappy.



So I’ve gotten really screwed up in my head lately and pondered this question: How do you stay energetic as a copywriter if you’re just sitting around at a computer all day?

Answer: Throw extra motion words into your copy. And you’ll grab your readers more effectively in the process.



Motion words trick your brain into believing you’re physically moving around. It turns out the brain doesn’t recognize fiction from reality, according to this New York Times article.

Motion words are one way copywriters can grip the brain’s control panel.



Motion words push those buttons in your brain activating the physical motion your motion word refers to. Huh?

So the word “KICK” spins the gear in your brain telling your leg to actually-for-real kick.

This becomes intriguing for copywriters, who spend their time cracking the mysteries of the human brain on a daily basis. And motion words are one way copywriters can grip the brain’s control panel.

Do your feet flutter when you read “kick,” “punt,” “stomp,” “rush” or another foot-related word?



There are many great resources instructing copywriters to use words that inspire.

I tip my hat to Jon Morrow’s list of power words. Also, I love Henneke Duistermaat’s e-book on how to turbocharge copy and win customers. (Henneke’s free e-book includes lots of motion words. And it’s a blast.)

I’ve literally been building this article while I discover Henneke’s content about sensory words. What I mean is I drafted this article, then read Henneke, then revised.

Henneke’s got the right idea, and she’s just … brilliant. I hope she keeps delving into sensory words and gracing us with useful applications for them.

I really think this emphasis on word choice needs further exploration.




So what am I asking you to do?

Use more motion-oriented vocab when you draft and revise. Replace drab, non-physical action words with physically stimulating commands.

You know how to write and you’re good at it, duh! But somewhere in the shuffle your word choice got wrinkly and now it’s time for a lift.



We easily slip into writing in an abstract way so readers can’t connect and engage with our copy.

But readers understand ideas more effectively when they’re given concrete metaphors to interpret them by.

It turns out there are all kinds of motion words that can replace non-physical actions.

Like when we write take a stab at. We’re referring to some abstract way of trying to make something successful. But we understand this complex process by take a stab at. Brilliant.

My point is you can litter motion words all over your copy, and it’ll often work.



For CTA’s:

  • Click here -> Dive in
  • Get your e-book here -> Snuggle up with your e-book
  • Learn more -> Jump in
  • Go to site -> Climb aboard
  • Explore -> Plumb the depths of
  • Find -> Nail down
  • View photos -> Pour your eyes over these photos
  • Go to site -> Jump to site
  • View -> Flip through
  • Go to -> Rush to

And on and on and on. What are some other examples you can think of?



“GO TO”:

  • Rush over
  • Step over to
  • Dash into
  • Zoom over to
  • Blast over to
  • Gallup over to
  • Slip into
  • Dive into
  • Duck into
  • Drop into
  • Leap onto
  • Jump into/onto
  • Swing by
  • Hit up
  • Get down to



  • Grab
  • Snag
  • Devour
  • Sink your teeth into
  • Snuggle up with
  • Cuddle with
  • Rub elbows with
  • Bump shoulders with
  • Bite into
  • Eat/Eat up
  • Lasso
  • Lap up
  • Swallow
  • Hook up with
  • Plug into
  • Jump on



  • Ratchet up
  • Dial up
  • Crank up
  • Rack up
  • Boost
  • Skyrocket



  • Throw
  • Chuck
  • Drop
  • Pack
  • Jam
  • Load
  • Cram



Dive into these word lists, copywriters, and blow your reader’s brains out even more than you already do.

And visit this article again. I’ll be adding more to it as I go. So, more on this later — peace! Please feel free to email me at or comment below if you have any inspired thoughts!

PS You may have noticed that for your benefit, I’ve emboldened most of the motion words I use in this article.



Below is a list of motion words you can throw into your copy now to jazz up your readers and prime them to buy, click, read more or whatever.

  • Break
  • Slash
  • Cut
  • Drop
  • Stack
  • Step
  • Take off
  • Leap into
  • Dive into
  • Climb aboard
  • Scale
  • Plumb
  • Take a deep breath
  • Hook up with
  • Rub elbows with
  • Pack
  • Fill
  • Cram
  • Jam
  • Dribble
  • Drazzle (okay that’s not a word. Gotcha!!!)
  • Load
  • Snuggle up
  • Cuddle up
  • Bathe
  • Hit
  • Sharpen
  • Go head-to-head with
  • Come face-to-face with
  • Nosedive
  • Sweep
  • Eat up
  • Devour
  • Get down
  • Shrug off
  • Grip
  • Jump out of
  • Bind up
  • Clamp
  • Cut up
  • Dice up
  • Lasso
  • Tie up
  • Pull
  • Yank
  • Tug
  • Catch
  • Grind
  • Toss
  • Throw
  • Catapult
  • Smooth out
  • Dewrinkle
  • Iron out
  • Shake out
  • Slingshot
  • Bat
  • Zoom in
  • Squeeze
  • Step over
  • Launch
  • Clench
  • Blow up
  • Spark
  • Ignite
  • Strike
  • Kick
  • Punch
  • Boot
  • Speed
  • Zip
  • Tear (i.e. tear down the road. Tear away. Tear off)
  • Dash
  • Grab
  • Sprint
  • Scoot
  • Smoke
  • Zoom
  • Plunge
  • Plummet
  • Fly
  • Tailspin
  • Cruise
  • Leap
  • Bound (bound into the room)
  • Jump on
  • Outpace
  • Whiz by
  • Perk up
  • Juggle
  • Close in
  • Clap
  • Clasp
  • Lap up (like a dog)
  • Stretch out
  • Massage
  • Smoosh
  • Box in/out
  • Cradle
  • Hold
  • Squirm
  • Shake
  • Quiver
  • Bloodracing(ly)
  • Pulsing
  • Pulsating
  • Crane
  • Look up
  • Pound
  • Bite
  • Rush
  • Run
  • Smack
  • Grapple
  • Teeter
  • Lunge
  • Handle
  • Sprint
  • Race
  • Wrangle
  • Wrestle
  • Hurd
  • Chop
  • Poke
  • Pinch
  • Snap
  • Tickle
  • Cough up
  • Slurp up
  • March
  • Bounce over
  • Plug into
  • Shoot over
  • Release
  • Unleash
  • Get away (this one’s tricky, but I felt that whenever the brain hears it, the phrase refers to PHYSICALLY moving away from something. It probably doesn’t do what the New York Times article refers to, but I’m leaving it there for some intuitive reason that’s tough to explain.)
  • Roughhousing
  • Gallup
  • Stomp
  • Stamp out
  • Turn heads
  • Trim
  • Stir
  • Spin
  • Swirl
  • Burst
  • Blast
  • Shatter
  • Smash
  • Slam
  • Slap
  • Blow away
  • Pack a wallop (love that one)
  • Knock ’em dead
  • Break a leg
  • Blow the lid off
  • Raise the roof/bar
  • Jet-propel
  • Impact
  • Punch
  • Charge
  • Unhinge
  • Unleash (is that a repeat?)
  • Rain down on
  • Ampup
  • Stoke (the fire)
  • Stand up to
  • Cut down on
  • Tackle
  • Zap
  • Wipe out
  • Slice
  • Dice
  • Si[
  • Skip (to your grandma’s)
  • Turn around
  • Round up
  • Circle back with
  • Circle around
  • Contract (i.e. antonym to expand)
  • Tap into
  • Tap through
  • Tap along with
  • Tap your toe
  • Lock out
  • Block out
  • Take off (repeat again?)
  • Whisk away
  • Cut through
  • Boost
  • Lift
  • Turn up
  • Jack up
  • Dial up
  • Ratchet up (love this one…saw this inventive verb phrase in an article on Copyblogger, Buffer or someplace…damn!)
  • Tighten
  • Loosen
  • Streamline (okay almost)
  • Strangle
  • Take a stab at
  • Fire away
  • Scramble
  • Seize (“Heavens to Betsy, he SEIZED my arm!”)
  • Snatch up
  • Trap
  • Rake in (YEEES)
  • Reel in (McDonald’s has been using “reel” on their fish sandwich signage copy)
  • Crush
  • Grab
  • Drag
  • Slide
  • Take hold of
  • Grab hold of (been into this one lately)
  • Roast (eh, not super motion-ee. But it is stimulating in a visual, auditory way at least. ROAST YOUR COMPETITION for example.)
  • Flip
  • Shuffle
  • Shape
  • Burn off
  • Snag (seen this in CTAs around the web. A stand in for click here. SNAG THE E-BOOK for example.)
  • Shave off
  • Spearhead
  • Ladle up
  • Shoot off
  • Shoot
  • Dig
  • Shovel
  • Crank up
  • Crank out
  • Spring
  • Trip
  • Pitfall

(Credit to Words That Sell)

photo credit: 8ª Batalha de Break Evolução Hip Hop via photopin (license)


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