pen·​du·​lum | \ ˈpen-jə-ləm How to pronounce pendulum (audio) , ˈpen-dyə-, -də-\

Definition of pendulum

1 : a body suspended from a fixed point so as to swing freely to and fro under the action of gravity and commonly used to regulate movements (as of clockwork)
2 : something (such as a state of affairs) that alternates between opposites doesn't take much to swing the pendulum of opinion the other way

Examples of pendulum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

A 19th century clock containing four pendulums was lost to the flames, but many other valuables were retrieved. Wsj Staff, WSJ, "What Was Saved in the Notre Dame Cathedral Fire," 17 Apr. 2019 One obvious area for discussion: The shift of the tax burden away from capital and on to labor since the pendulum began to swing back under Ronald Reagan. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "What Really Ails American Capitalism," 10 Feb. 2019 The prevailing consensus so far is that the alleged bias most frequently falls on the left-leaning side of most debates, although that pendulum could swing now that Democrats will be the majority party in the House. Michael Liedtke, The Seattle Times, "Google grilled in Congress: What’s ahead for tech companies," 12 Dec. 2018 The West’s top two teams—and perhaps the NBA’s top two teams— have been on a crash course since that moment of indecision and pendulum swings in mid-October. Ben Golliver,, "Crash Course: Warriors, Rockets Set For Epic West Finals Showdown," 9 May 2018 Innovation these days mainly stems from the advent of expensive research and development teams.’ Swing Shift Every mechanical clock and watch needs an oscillator, a device that swings between two positions—like the pendulum of a grandfather clock. Michael Clerizo, WSJ, "The Future of Watches: 3-D Printed Cases and Robot Horologists," 31 July 2018 The pendulum of playing time appears to be swinging ever so slightly in favor of Williams, a .233 hitter with a .685 OPS in 86 at-bats. Scott Lauber,, "How Nick Williams began forcing his way into the Phillies lineup," 22 May 2018 Even Longer After years of boyish crops dominating the runways—and subsequently tempting women everywhere to lop it all off—the pendulum has swung, strikingly, the other direction. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "9 Beauty Trends That Blew Up on the Fall 2019 Runways," 8 Mar. 2019 But in 2016, the pendulum swung back, with Apple introducing its iPhone SE, the company’s smallest—and according to many cognoscenti—best model ever. Matthew Kitchen, WSJ, "The Beyond-Basic Phone that Made an Exec’s Life Better," 22 Feb. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pendulum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of pendulum

1660, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pendulum

New Latin, from Latin, neuter of pendulus

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Statistics for pendulum

Last Updated

18 May 2019

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Time Traveler for pendulum

The first known use of pendulum was in 1660

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More Definitions for pendulum



English Language Learners Definition of pendulum

: a stick with a weight at the bottom that swings back and forth inside a clock


pen·​du·​lum | \ ˈpen-jə-ləm How to pronounce pendulum (audio) , -dyə-\

Kids Definition of pendulum

: a weight hung from a point so as to swing freely back and forth under the action of gravity

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More from Merriam-Webster on pendulum

Spanish Central: Translation of pendulum

Nglish: Translation of pendulum for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pendulum for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about pendulum

Comments on pendulum

What made you want to look up pendulum? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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