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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.
  3. Rashly; precipitately; without deliberation, in haste, hastily




headlong (comparative more headlong, superlative most headlong)

  1. Precipitous.
  2. Plunging downwards head foremost.
  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.