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.