Even though The Walking Dead TV show is definitely about zombies, there hasn’t actually been a single utterance of the “z” word in the show. (The comics are another matter, however.) Why does the show shy away from the word “zombie”? According to the show’s creators, the story is set in a world where the concept of a zombie—the dead rising to live in search of brains and flesh—does not exist. That means no Night of the Living Dead or its countless sequels—and definitely no Zombie Survival Guide.
In other words, the characters in the show are dealing with something that they have not ever dealt with before. Imagine if suddenly the world was overrun with vampires. And then imagine that we don’t know what vampires are, have never heard of them, have never read a single Anne Rice novel or Dracula adaptation—and that’s the scenario of The Walking Dead. But, of course, with zombies.
Although the characters shy away from using the word zombie, there are still plenty of other terms the employ when talking about those pesky living dead.
The most common word is, of course, walkers. The “walkers” term comes from the fact that—and I’m sure you’ve already guessed it—the living dead walk, or roam, around looking for delicious people to eat.
No, the group isn’t calling the living dead a bunch of computer geeks—in the show, “geeks” is often used by Daryl or Glenn as a derogatory term for walkers. It may be referring to their mindless state, or the fact that they are no longer quite human.
This phrase first showed up during the Woodbury saga and is a favorite of The Governor. Biters is, of course, straight and to the point. What do the living dead do? They bite.
Another specific walker term which is infrequently used, but has still popped up a few times throughout the show. Floaters is used when the group encounters the living dead who have found themselves trapped, usually in water or mud, and cannot get out. For now, anyway. (Watch out, Carl!)
This phrase isn’t used as much as walkers, but it often comes up after the group encounters a zombie that seems to pop up out of nowhere–from behind counters, out of bushes, or from behind a tree.