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From Middle English hedlong, alteration of hedling, heedling, hevedlynge (headlong), assimilated to long. More at headling.



headlong (not comparable)

  1. With the head first or down.
  2. With an unrestrained forward motion.
    Figures out today show the economy plunging headlong into recession.
    • 2018 October 17, Drachinifel, Last Ride of the High Seas Fleet - Battle of Texel 1918[1], archived from the original on 4 August 2022, retrieved 4 August 2022, 24:24 from the start:
      Realizing he is now boxed in on all sides, Hipper decides the only remaining card he has to play is to sell his ships as dearly as possible. The remaining German ships make a hard turn southeast, and drive headlong at the Grand Fleet. It is a brave gesture, but only eight of the ships emerge from the pall of smoke that roughly marks the original German line of advance. Two more emerge minutes later, but that is all.
  3. Rashly; precipitately; without deliberation; in haste, hastily.




headlong (comparative more headlong, superlative most headlong)

  1. Precipitous.
  2. Plunging downwards head foremost.
    • 1993, Michael Hume Jackson, Galapagos, a Natural History (page 143)
      On sighting their prey, they check their flight and hurtle in a headlong dive to the sea.
  3. Rushing forward without restraint.
  4. (figuratively) Reckless, impetuous.
    • 1869, RD Blackmoore, Lorna Doone, II:
      “Time is up,” cried another boy, more headlong than head-monitor.

Derived terms[edit]



headlong (third-person singular simple present headlongs, present participle headlonging, simple past and past participle headlonged)

  1. (transitive) To precipitate.
    • 1862, Thomas Adams, The works of Thomas Adams:
      If a stranger be setting his pace and face toward some deep pit, or steep rock — such a precipice as the cliffs of Dover — how do we cry aloud to have him return ? yet in mean time forget the course of our own sinful ignorance, that headlongs us to confusion.
    • 1905, Liberty Hyde Bailey, The outlook to nature:
      Carriages went up and down in endless pageant. Trolley-cars rushed by, clanging and grinding as they headlonged into the side streets.