Head Over Heels: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 11, 2023

The phrase "head over heels" traditionally means to be completely in love or very excited about something. People say it to express their extreme emotions or feelings towards someone or something.

In short:

"Head over heels" signifies deep enthusiasm or infatuation.

What Does "Head Over Heels" Mean?

The idiom "head over heels" conveys a state of being extremely excited or infatuated about something or someone. It suggests that the person is so enthralled or engrossed that they're almost tumbling over from the intensity of their emotions.

  • It can express intense love or infatuation for someone, for instance, "He's head over heels in love with her."
  • It's also used to depict extreme enthusiasm or excitement about something, like: "She's head over heels about her new job."

Where Does "Head Over Heels" Come From?

Interestingly, the original phrase was "heels over head," which accurately describes the act of somersaulting. People started saying "head over heels" instead of the original phrase as time passed, even though our head is naturally above our heels. We first saw the phrase in its modern form in the late 18th century. Since then, people frequently use it to express intense love or extreme excitement about something.

Historical Usage

"When I fall head over heels in love I shall want to marry, and not one minute before."

- A Son of the Plains, Lillian Scott Troy, 1868

10 Examples of "Head Over Heels" in Sentences

To better comprehend the idiom's usage, let's examine its use in a variety of contexts:

  • He was head over heels for the dime piece he met at the bar.
  • She is head over heels for the new puppy her parents got her.
  • He was so excited about the project that he plunged head over heels into it.
  • She thought he was a gentleman and a scholar, and she was head over heels for him.
  • The children were head over heels, excited about their trip to the amusement park.
  • So you fell head over heels after dumping him? Well, that's a new one.
  • The team was head over heels when they won the championship.
  • She was head over heels for the idea of studying abroad.
  • She fell head over heels for him, even though he was as cold as ice.
  • I hear you; I'm also head over heels for a new hobby and can't stop talking about it.

Examples of "Head Over Heels" in Pop Culture

From music to movies, the idiom "head over heels" frequently appears in popular culture:

  • "Head Over Heels" is a song by the English rock band Tears for Fears, released in 1985.
  • "Head Over Heels" is a romantic comedy film released in 2001, starring Monica Potter and Freddie Prinze Jr.
  • "Head Over Heels (Geek Girl, Book 5)" is a novel by Holly Smale. It is the fifth installment in the popular and award-winning "Geek Girl" series.
  • "Head Over Heels: An Anthology" is a romance book by New York Times bestselling author Beth Harbison.

Other/Different Ways to Say "Head Over Heels"

There are several synonyms and phrases that can be used as alternatives to "head over heels," depending on the context:

  • Smitten with
  • Enamored with
  • Infatuated with
  • Crazy About
  • Mad About
  • Over the moon about
  • Besotted with
  • Wild About

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Head Over Heels":

  • What is the meaning of "head over heels"?

The phrase "head over heels" typically means being deeply in love or incredibly excited about something.

  • What is the origin of the phrase "head over heels"?

The idiom originally was "heels over head," depicting the act of tumbling. However, it eventually reversed to "head over heels" and started to denote extreme excitement or infatuation.

  • Can "head over heels" have negative connotations?

Generally, "head over heels" has positive connotations, indicating strong feelings of love or excitement. It's not usually associated with negative contexts.

  • Can I use "head over heels" in formal writing?

"Head over heels" is acceptable in both formal and informal contexts. However, in more formal or academic writing, it might be more appropriate to use terms like "enamored with" or "infatuated with".

  • How can I replace "head over heels" in a sentence?

You can replace "head over heels" with phrases like "smitten with," "enamored with," or "crazy about," depending on the context.

  • Is "head over heels" a British or American idiom?

"Head over heels" is a universal English idiom, understood and used in both British and American English, as well as other English-speaking regions.

  • Do people use it in everyday conversation?

Yes, "head over heels" is a common idiom and is frequently used in everyday conversation, especially when expressing strong positive emotions or reactions.

  • Can "head over heels" describe temporary situations?

Yes, "head over heels" is often used to describe temporary situations. It typically signifies a present or imminent circumstance that one finds thrilling or captivating.

  • Can I use it to describe people?

Yes, "head over heels" can be used to describe reactions to individuals. For example, "I am head over heels in love with her."

  • Can I use it in a literal sense?

"Head over heels" is predominantly used in a figurative sense to indicate deep infatuation or extreme excitement. It's not typically used in a literal sense.

Final Thoughts About "Head Over Heels"

The expression "head over heels" encapsulates intense feelings of love, infatuation, or excitement. This phrase has become widespread in English, literature, films, songs, and everyday conversation.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "Head over heels" is a colorful idiom that means you're deeply in love or extremely excited about something.
  • This evocative phrase fits all sorts of scenarios, highlighting the passion or exhilaration someone's experiencing.
  • Feeling creative? Try its synonyms, like "smitten with," "enamored with," and "crazy about," to add some variety to your conversations.

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