Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adv. With the head leading; headfirst: The runner slid headlong into third base.
  • adv. In an impetuous manner; rashly.
  • adv. At breakneck speed or with uncontrolled force.
  • adj. Done with the head leading; headfirst: a headlong dive.
  • adj. Impetuous; rash. See Synonyms at impetuous.
  • adj. Uncontrollably forceful or fast.
  • adj. Archaic Steep; sheer.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. With the head first or down.
  • adv. With an unrestrained forward motion.
  • adj. Precipitous.
  • adj. Plunging downwards head foremost.
  • adj. Rushing forward without restraint.
  • adj. Reckless, impetuous.
  • v. To precipitate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adv. With the head foremost; headforemost; head first.
  • adv. Rashly; precipitately; without deliberation.
  • adv. Hastily; without delay or respite.
  • adj. Rash; precipitate.
  • adj. Steep; precipitous.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • With the head foremost: as, to fall headlong.
  • Rashly; precipitately; without deliberation.
  • Hastily; without delay or respite; tumultuously.
  • Steep; precipitous.
  • Rash; precipitate: as, headlong folly.
  • Rushing precipitately; precipitate; hasty.
  • To precipitate.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. with the head foremost
  • adj. excessively quick
  • adv. with the head foremost
  • adv. at breakneck speed
  • adv. in a hasty and foolhardy manner

Etymologies

From Middle English (bi) hedlong, alteration of (bi) hedling : hed, head; see head + -ling, in a specified direction; see -ling2.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English hedlong, alteration of hedling, heedling, hevedlynge ("headlong"), assimilated to long. More at headling. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It is neither heedless of the past or future, nor is it in headlong pursuit of immediate gratification.

    Boing Boing

  • Your story could begin headlong rushing into events with everything seeming a blur, the detachment and disjointed conversations from those around the characters; the jaggered edges, the rawness.

    The Writing of Grief « Write Anything

  • Wild-dog sprang back and whirled away in headlong flight for a score of yards before he learned that he was not pursued.

    Chapter 15

  • Desperate at the confusion which now ensued, as his archers fell headlong from the rocks, and his cavalry lay drowning before him, Lord Percy called up his infantry: – they appeared, but though ten thousand strong, the determined

    The Scottish Chiefs

  • His hope did not deceive him; but, in the eagerness to pursue it, he forgot the precaution with which he had walked before, and fell headlong from the top to the bottom of the cliff, which fortunately for him was not at this place above ten or twelve feet deep, and he reached the bottom, without breaking any of his limbs, at the expence of some contusions.

    The Old Manor House

  • The revolution, which cast him headlong from the throne, saved and exalted Isaac Angelus, 18 who descended by the females from the same Imperial dynasty.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • But in the second year, their patron was cast headlong from the throne, the bishops of the East were released from their occasional conformity, the Roman faith was more firmly replanted by the orthodox successors of Bardanes, and the fine problems of the incarnation were forgotten in the more popular and visible quarrel of the worship of images.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • The corrupt or malicious witness was thrown headlong from the Tarpeian rock, to expiate his falsehood, which was rendered still more fatal by the severity of the penal laws, and the deficiency of written evidence.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • Him I had never injured either by word or deed: yet he has sent against me, I know not from whence, a certain Belisarius, who has cast me headlong from the throne into his abyss of misery.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • The senate decreed that his relations and servants should be thrown down headlong from the Gemonian stairs.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

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