Head Over Heels – Meaning, Origin


The expression “head over heels” has two definitions:

1. To have/feel a romantic interest in someone.

2. Someone that had a bad fall (e.g., he fell head over heels down the stairs).

Example: I go to the coffee shop a few times a week and there’s a girl working there that always strikes up a conversation with me. I think I’m beginning to fall head over heels for her… I wonder if she likes me.

Similar Sayings:
1. Love at first sight
2. Love birds
3. Lovey-dovey
Idiom: Fall Head Over Heels

The Origin Of ‘Head Over Heels’

By the looks of it, this phrase has an older, inverted form that goes “heels over head.” This inverted form referred to someone who had fallen down. For example, in the London Annual Register newspaper, printed on January, 1766, it reads:

“Being thrown with great vehemence from a projecting crag, which turned him heels over head, he fell down perpendicular upwards of fifty yards into a snow drift at the boot of a cliff, where he lay above half an hour before his companions could get to him to take him up.”

According to the website World Wide Words, it was by the end of the 18th century that this idiom changed from the inverted version, to “head over heels,” the one people are familiar with today. This newer version referred to someone who had fallen, not on the ground, but in love. An example of this comes from a book titled A Narrative of the Life of David Corckett, 1834:

“I soon found myself head over heels in love with this girl.”

In short, this expression is at least 244 years old.

Example Sentences

  • I’m falling head over heels for a woman at my job; she is pretty and has a great personality!

Note: The definition of phrases and sayings can be found with ease, but finding the origins of phrases can be far more challenging. Sometimes, it is not clear where or how an expression originated. So what will be listed on the expression’s page when its origin is unclear? Usually a quote of the earliest known appearance of the phrase in print will be there.

These quotations provide an idea on the phrase’s age. For instance, if an idiom shows up in a newspaper from the year 1850 and it gets quoted on here, this does not necessarily mean that it originated from that newspaper or even that year; it simply means that the phrase is at least that old.

Sharing is caring!