pen·​du·​lum ˈpen-jə-ləm How to pronounce pendulum (audio)
: 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)
: 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 The psychological advantage, perhaps more important than anything tactical through three games, has swung to the opposite side of the pendulum. Bennett Durando, The Denver Post, 11 May 2024 The grim forecast was driven by lower than expected state revenues, continuing a pendulum swing from the fiscal boom of the COVID-19 pandemic. Taryn Luna, Los Angeles Times, 10 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for pendulum 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pendulum.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin, from Latin, neuter of pendulus

First Known Use

1660, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pendulum was in 1660

Dictionary Entries Near pendulum

Cite this Entry

“Pendulum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


pen·​du·​lum ˈpen-jə-ləm How to pronounce pendulum (audio)
: a body hung from a fixed point so as to swing freely back and forth under the action of gravity

from scientific Latin pendulum "something suspended so as to swing freely," from Latin pendulus "suspended," from pendēre "to hang" — related to depend, perpendicular

More from Merriam-Webster on pendulum

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!