Stuttering Glossary

Avoidance Behaviors

Avoidance behaviors are classified as a secondary

behavior of stuttering.  They are behaviors used to avoid

the moment of stuttering; including circumlocution,

interjections, the use of starter phrases, etc.



A block is when there is a cessation of airflow or voicing,

often paired with stopped movement of the articulators.

Examples include:

  • Block with Posturing: A cessation of airflow observed

with open mouth postured in the position for the initial

sound of the word.


Body Movement

Movement of the body while speaking or while avoiding

or escaping a block.



Circumlocution is a secondary behavior of stuttering.  It

involves a person knowing what word they would like to

say, but describing the word instead of saying the target

word in order to avoid a moment of stuttering.



A fluency disorder where the speaker has a rapid or

atypical speaking rate, excessive dysfluencies, as well

as other language or phonological errors when

speaking.  Cluttering often presents as mumbled speech.


Core Behavior

The core behaviors of stuttering, which are the types of

dysfluencies a person who stutters cannot control, 

including repetitions, prolongations and blocks.


Eye Aversion

The speaker averts their eyes while speaking or while

avoiding or escaping a block.


Eye Blinks

The amount of time a person blinks their eyes is

increased while speaking, or when avoiding or escaping

a block.


Eye Opening

Opening of the speakerʼs eyes to a diameter that is

wider than what is typical while speaking or avoiding a




Using words to avoid or postpone the moment of


For example:

    • “The, um, uh, girl was playing outside.”


How smoothly sounds, syllables, words and phrases are

joined together when speaking.


Hand Movement

Movement of the hands while speaking or while avoiding

or escaping a block.


Hand to Face Movement 

Movement of the hand to the face while speaking or

when avoiding or escaping a block.


Head Movement

Movement of the head while speaking or when avoiding

or escaping a block.



Interjecting a filler word to either delay the moment of

stuttering or to make the following word easier to


For example:

    • “I went to the….um….store today.”
    • “She….uh….plays the guitar.”


Lip Pursing

The speaker has observable tightness in the lips.


Loss of Eye Contact

The speaker reduces the amount of eye contact while

speaking, including, but not limited to, while they are

avoiding or escaping a block.


Mouth Tension

There is increased tension in the mouth while speaking,

especially for certain words or sounds.



Excessive pauses in frequency or duration to postpone

or avoid the moment of stuttering.

For example:

  • “I (pause…) did very well on my test.”



A prolongation is when a sound within a word is

extended longer than the amount of time typically used

for production.

Examples include:

  • Prolongation: “Mmmmountain”
  • Prolongation with Pitch and Loudness Rise: 

“Mmmmountain” (with a rise in pitch, loudness or both pitch and loudness)



The speaker is using visual force to help push out the

words while experiencing a block.



A repetition is when a whole word, part of a word,

syllable, or several words are repeated one or more

times within an utterance.

Examples include:

    • Whole Word Repetition: “The boy-boy is playing”, “The dog-dog ate his food”
    • Part Word Repetition: “Ch-Ch-Chair” or “Ch-Chair”
    • Part Word Repetition with Schwa: “Ta-Table” or “Tuh-Table”
    • Phrase Repetition: “Tomorrow I will go, tomorrowI will go to school.”


Stoppage typically in the middle of a sentence or

thought, characterized by avoiding a block and going

back to the beginning of the phrase or sentence.

For Example:

“I was going to the park (anticipated block)” voicing stops

Revision- “I was going to the park and I saw a stray dog.”


Secondary Behavior

Secondary behaviors are behaviors a person who

stutters exhibits in response to the core behaviors.

These behaviors are developed in reaction to a moment

of stuttering.  Secondary behaviors can include

avoidance or escape behaviors, circumlocution, using

fillers and avoiding eye contact.



A word or phrase used frequently and inappropriately to

start phonation and/or avoid the moment of stuttering.

For example:

    • “Guess what? Guess what?”
    • “Hey, ya know”



A neurological disorder that interrupts a person’s fluent

flow of speech characterized by motor discoordination of

the articulators presented as by core and secondary



Word or Situation Avoidance

The speaker avoids saying certain words or sounds

because of previous repeated difficulty with those

particular words or sounds.  The speaker avoids

speaking with certain people or in certain situations

based on previous difficulty with fluency in these



Word Switch

Use of a synonym to avoid or in anticipation of a block.

For example:

    • saying “pretty” when you really wanted to say “beautiful”.