Head over Heels (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Head over Heels"?

The term "head over heels" means to be very excited (usually about being in love).
Head over Heels (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • Tony only stayed in the job because he was head over heels in love with the boss's daughter.
  • We were head over heels in love when we first met. And, we still are, aren't we?
  • Paula has been head over heels with life since moving into her new apartment.
This idiom originates from the image of someone turning cartwheels to express their excitement. It is typically seen in the saying "head over heels in love." The saying arose in its figurative meaning in the mid-18th century (evidence). Before then, it was used more literally to refer to a cartwheel or a somersault.

Here is an early version of the saying being used figuratively from the Indiana newspaper "The Lebanon Patriot" in 1833:
  • About ten years ago Lotta fell head over heels in love with a young Philadelphian of excellent family.
The term "to fall head over heels" means to fall hopelessly in love. Here are some real-life examples of its use:
  • It's great to fall head over heels in love at a fast pace, and nothing's more romantic, but you need to look after yourself. (Actor Douglas Booth)
  • When you fall head over heels for someone, you're not falling in love with who they are as a person; you're falling in love with your idea of love. (Actress Maria Bello)

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See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

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