Round Heels: Definition, Meaning, And Origin

Last Updated on
June 24, 2023

"Round heels" is an idiom that describes someone, typically a woman, who is considered promiscuous or easily seduced. It is often used in a derogatory or judgmental manner.

In short:

"Round heels" refers to a woman who is considered promiscuous or 'easy.'

What Does "Round Heels" Mean?

"Round heels" describes a woman who is seen as sexually promiscuous or easily swayed by men's advances. The phrase carries a negative connotation, and people often use it to shame or judge a woman’s sexual behavior.

Let's explore its core meanings and usage:

  • The term is rooted in the derogatory perception of a woman's sexual behavior, reflecting societal norms that stigmatize female promiscuity.
  • While it is generally used in informal or colloquial settings, the phrase is less common today due to evolving societal attitudes toward women's sexual autonomy.
  • The phrase can contribute to discussions about gender, sexuality, societal norms, and the history of gender-based discrimination.

Where Does "Round Heels" Come From?

The phrase "round heels" is thought to have originated in the early 20th century. It is said to have been derived from the imagery of a woman readily tipping backward, as if having round heels, to submit to sexual advances.

Historical Example

"You wouldn't care to play the role of a round-heeled heroine, would you, baby?"

- Tonopah Lady, Zola Helen Ross, 1950 

10 Examples of "Round Heels" in Sentences

Given the phrase's outdated and derogatory nature, contemporary "round heels" usage is rare.

However, here are some hypothetical examples for understanding:

  • To avoid being called a round-heeled woman, Laura tries to hide her dating history like a deep dark secret.
  • Despite the rumors about her being round heels, she was simply comfortable expressing her sexuality.
  • Good on you for not stereotyping her as round heels just because she's sociable and outgoing.
  • The term round heels often surfaced in hushed whispers around town, reflecting the community's judgmental nature.
  • She didn't mind the term round heels because she believed in her sexual autonomy and refused to be shamed for it.
  • She was known around town for having round heels, and people gossiped about her escapades.
  • His friends often teased him for chasing after smoke-show women with round heels.
  • Her flirtatious behavior tends to leave her open to being misjudged as round heels.
  • The character in the novel was portrayed as having round heels, leading to a scandalous reputation.
  • She was frequently out and about, earning her the reputation of being round heels in our small town.

Examples of "Round Heels" in Pop Culture

The phrase "round heels" can occasionally be found in older literature and films, reflecting the era's attitudes towards female sexuality.

Here are some instances:

  • A quote from the book "High Heels are Murder: Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper" by Elaine Viets: "Considering Mel's proclivities, that could give new meaning to “round heels.” Josie saw Cheryl handcuffed to a pink chair while Mel tickled her toes with his carnation."
  • A quote from the book "Blackberry Pie Murder" by Joanne Fluke: "They called them opera girls or round heels back then."
  • In the 1984 movie "Purple Heart," Deborah Solomon says, "You may even find some nice, easy nurse with round eyes and round heels who'll play roll over every time one of these dumbass kids has the bad manners to die on you."

Other/Different Ways to Say "Round Heels"

There are numerous alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "round heels." However, many of these terms also carry negative connotations.

Here are some of them:

  • Easy
  • Loose
  • Fast
  • Harlot
  • Courtesan
  • Strumpet
  • Wanton
  • Floozy
  • Tart

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Round Heels":

  • What does "round heels" mean?

"Round heels" is an outdated term used to describe a woman who is considered promiscuous or easy.

  • How can I use "round heels" in a sentence?

Given its derogatory nature, it's advised not to use "round heels" in everyday conversation. However, for historical or literary context, you might say, "In the early 20th century, a woman who was perceived as promiscuous might be referred to as having 'round heels.'"

  • Where does the idiom "round heels" come from?

"Round heels" is believed to have originated in the early 20th century, with the imagery of a woman readily tipping backward to suggest her readiness for sexual advances.

  • Is "round heels" a sexist term?

Yes, "round heels" is a sexist term that has been historically used to judge and shame women for their sexual behavior.

  • Do people still use "round heels" today?

Given its negative connotations and societal progress in women's rights and sexual liberation, the term "round heels" is rarely used in modern parlance.

  • What is the connotation of "round heels"?

"Round heels" carries negative connotations, often used to shame or degrade a woman based on her perceived sexual behavior.

  • Does "round heels" only apply to women?

Traditionally, "round heels" has been used exclusively to describe women. This reflects historical gender biases and the societal double standard applied to women's sexuality.

  • Does it have a neutral or positive connotation?

Historically, "round heels" has been used with a negative connotation. While the term could potentially be reappropriated, it would require a shift in societal perception of women's sexuality.

  • Is "round heels" the same as "head over heels"?

No, despite both phrases including the term "heels," they convey different meanings. "Head over heels" is an idiom used to describe someone who is completely in love or infatuated, while "round heels" relates to the perception of a woman's sexual behavior.

  • Is there a male equivalent of "round heels"?

While there are terms to describe promiscuous men, they often do not carry the same negative connotation as "round heels," reflecting societal double standards. Phrases like "womanizer" or"playboy" are commonly used, but they are often seen as less derogatory.

Final Thoughts About "Round Heels"

"Round heels" is an idiom that has been historically used to pass judgment on a woman's sexual behavior. It's a sexist term born out of societal standards that once sought to control and limit women's sexual freedom. The phrase, being rarely used in modern times, serves as a reminder of how much society's perception of women's sexuality has evolved over time.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "Round heels" is an outdated and sexist term used to describe a woman perceived as promiscuous.
  • The term is rooted in the early 20th century, representing the societal norms of that period.
  • Today, the term is rarely used due to societal progress with respect to women's rights and sexual liberation.

It is important to remember that everyone has the right to express their sexuality freely, without judgment or derogatory labels. Words can carry a lot of weight, so choose them wisely.

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