head over heels

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Attested from the 14th century onwards, originally as heels over head, which better rendered the notion of things being upside down (head over heels is the standard state of being).


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head over heels (not comparable)

  1. Tumbling upside down; somersaulting.
    Synonyms: arse over tit, ass over teakettle, base over apex
    She tripped and rolled head over heels down the hill.
    • 2011, Wes Harvey, A Most Unusual Life, page 83:
      I was knocked head over heels about 20' from where I was before.
  2. At top speed; frantically.
    Synonyms: full tilt, full throttle, like mad
    Hearing the noise in the dark, the children ran head over heels back home.
    • 1968, Vardis Fisher, Opal Laurel Holmes, Opal Laurel Fisher, Gold Rushes and Mining Camps of the Early American West, page 46:
      It told its readers that people all over the country were "rushing head over heels toward the El Dorado on the Pacific— that wonderful California, which sets the public mind almost on the highway to insanity."
  3. (usually with in love) Hopelessly; madly; to distraction; deeply; utterly.
    • 1904, Henry Huttleston Rogers, “Letter from Rogers to Clemens (Mark Twain) dated 8 February 1904”, in Mark Twain's Correspondence with Henry Huttleston Rogers, 1893–1909, University of California Press, published 1969, page 555:
      I am head over heels in trouble.
    • 1967, Russell B. Long, Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 90th Congress - First Session, United States Congress, page 16122:
      Some of them lose and wind up head over heels in debt. Some of them win and wind up head over heels in debt.
    • 2002, Francine Pascal, Liar, page 184:
      I mean, do I just fall head over heels for the last girl I've kissed?
    • 2005, Ronald Frankenberg, Edith L. B. Turner, Heart of Lightness: The Life Story of an Anthropologist, page 2:
      For research we went to Africa, and found ourselves head over heels into ritual (chapter 4).
    • 2013, Laurie Friedman, Heart to Heart with Mallory, page 59:
      She told me that her mom and Joey's dad aren't just in love, they are head-over-heels in love.

Derived terms[edit]



head over heels (not comparable)

  1. Hopelessly smitten; madly in love.
    • 2011, Martina Manicastri, Climb into My Mind: A Book of Poems, Essays, and Short Stories[1], →ISBN, page 74:
      Steve is the hottest, smartest, funniest, and most athletic boy in all of Edison High. Who knew a jock could be captain of the math team? He is also the guy that every girl is head over heels for.
    • 2012, Dressed up Garbage Can[2], →ISBN, page 9:
      Not to mention the young man that I was head over heels with was the jock at the school he attended. He played football and was damned good at it!
    • 2012, James Prickette, Actors of the Spaghetti Westerns[3], →ISBN, page 237:
      From what it appeared to most everyone on the set, including Presley right down to the lowly stagehands, Ireland was head over heels with the impish young actress Weld from the start.
    • 2013, Dennis Coughlin, Passport to Life[4], →ISBN, page 155:
      Obviously at my age my interest was purely paternal but my younger self was head over heels.


Further reading[edit]