Just as a carbonated beverage is referred to as soda in some areas of the U.S. and pop in others, the scattered and isolated survivors of The Walking Dead zombie apocalypse have different names for wandering corpses. While the wider Walking Dead universe has even more zombie-monikers, here are 13 ways of saying “walker” on the show.
Used by citizens of Woodbury, GA, a seeming utopia headed by a man only known as the Governor, biter might be a more accurate moniker than walker since zombies will continue to want to bite even if they don’t have legs. A biter is also a deceiver, says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), like the Governor himself whose pleasant facade hides a sociopath.
2. COLD BODIES
Said by Terminus native Martin in the episode “No Sanctuary.” Cold bodies may be opposed to warm bodies, or non-zombie humans, which Terminusians like to serve up as barbecue.
“Got us a creeper,” Merle tells the Governor in “Walk with Me.” In the Walking Dead universe, zombies are of the slow, creeping variety, while in movies like World War Z (although not the book) and 28 Days Later, they're the quick, wall-climbing type.
4. DEAD ONES
Nickname preferred by the posse headed by Abraham Ford. Rosita says she and her group were “fighting off some dead ones” when Abraham showed up out of nowhere in a tank. Later, Eugene “Mullet” Porter says, “I sure as hell can't take a dead one down with sharp buttons and hella confidence.”
The most famous floater zombie is the one that's found stuck in a well on the Greene Family Farm. Because it’s been in the water so long, it’s grotesquely swollen and rips apart when the survivors try to pull it out. Dale calls this well walker a "swimmer."
While floater seems to be the accepted term for a water-logged zombie, no one on the show actually ever says it (at least not according to the transcripts). However, floater might be used in the comics, video games, or other Walking Dead formats.
A term that was used in the beginning of the show but not recently. In season two, Darryl says, “Look at him. Hanging up there like a big piñata. The other geeks came and ate all the flesh off his legs.”
A geek is a circus performer who, like zombies, will eat anything. American Horror Story’s Meep the Geek prefers live chickens, while in The X-Files’ “Humbug,” Conundrum the Geek’s diet consisted of live fish, cockroaches, and evil parasitic twins.
Used in “Nebraska” by Dave and Tony, two minor yet menacing characters. “Walkers?" Dave says to Rick. "That’s what you call them? I like that better than lamebrains.” Lame-brained was coined by P.G. Wodehouse in 1929, says the OED, while lame-brain came later, around 1945.
In “Walk With Me,” the Governor describes lurkers as “docile” zombies, that is those that have had their arms and jaws removed. Unable to grab or bite, they simply lurk. However, in the wider Walking Dead universe, a lurker is also a zombie that “plays dead,” lying in wait until a warm body comes by.
“When they turn,” Andrea says, “they become monsters ... Whoever they once were is gone.” While she uses "monster" to refer to zombies, Andrea could very well be talking about the sadistic Governor, the cannibalistic Terminus residents, the horrific Marauders, or any humans that have been "turned" by grief, terror, or simply the will to survive.
The word monster ultimately comes from the Latin monere, “warn," and originally referred to a mythical creature that was part human and part animal.
This is the term of choice for Aaron and the other members of the Alexandria settlement. When asked how long he has been following Rick’s group, Aaron answers, “Long enough to see that you practically ignore a pack of roamers on your trail.” In the comic and novel series, packs of zombies are also referred to as herds and hordes.
In Slabtown, also known as the Grady Memorial Hospital, the walking dead are rotters, a fitting term for a place that has a pile of corpses (and non-corpses) rotting at the bottom of its elevator shaft. A rotter is also someone who’s morally corrupt, much like Slabtown leader Dawn Lerner, who runs the hospital like a police state, forcing female residents to be "comfort women" for the police officers and refusing to release those she's “helped.”
12. SKIN EATER
This term is used by minor characters Ana and Sam, who quickly meet their demise. Zombies eat more than skin, but that’s how they usually start, tearing at the epidermis with their teeth. Another skin-eater is a type of insect that preys on prepared furs or hides.
Used by Rick and his group, walker is the zombie nickname we hear most. A walker is also anyone who travels by foot, as Rick’s group does when they’re vehicle-less, wandering from settlement to settlement, looking for a place to stay.