Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Headlong

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is headlong. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Headlong can be a synonym of headfirst, but it is most often used figuratively to describe something done either in a reckless manner or without pause or delay.

// He’s impulsive and often rushes headlong into new endeavors, giving little thought to long-term viability.

HEADLONG in Context

“Joseph Mallord William Turner … was less a British artist of the Romantic era than a fiery experimentalist whose audacious work blazed a path from serene Romanticism headlong into the turbulent realm of Modernist art.” — The Boston Globe, 22 Apr. 2022

Did You Know?

Headlong was born out of the Middle English word hedling, a combination of hed (“head”) and -ling, an adverb suffix meaning “in such a direction or manner.” Thus, hedling meant “with the head first”; it was originally applied to descriptions of falling, or to downward movement. Likely due to the influence of the words along and long, -ling came to be understood as a variant of the adverb suffix -long, a development that carried headlong, as well as sidelong, along with it.

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