pen·du·lum | \ˈpen-jə-ləm, 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

But the current trend is probably less a swing of the pendulum than a simple market correction. Tom Roland, Billboard, "Country's Roots Are Showing as New Releases Embrace Old-School Sounds," 11 July 2018 Dodd-Frank, by placing unregulated new markets under government supervision and by requiring big banks to behave less riskily, reversed the swing of the pendulum. Kimberly Harrington, The New Yorker, "The Dangers of Undoing Dodd-Frank," 24 July 2017 Instead of ticking according to the swing of a pendulum or the vibrations in a quartz crystal, these clocks follow the steady beat of an atom. Sophia Chen, WIRED, "These Physicists Watched a Clock Tick for 14 Years Straight," 4 June 2018 Several of those districts swung like the pendulum in a grandfather clock. The Economist, "Pennsylvania’s special electionConor Lamb is likely to lose PA-18," 10 Mar. 2018 One solution to all these problems is taking Europe back to the days of pendulum clocks. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "How Conflict in the Balkans Is Screwing Up Europe’s Clocks," 8 Mar. 2018 The pendulum swings from grossly overboard in some situations to far too lenient on others. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Because of his past, Jameis Winston can’t afford more transgressions," 22 June 2018 At the opposite end of the pendulum swing, steak fries are too much potato, not enough crunch. Julia Moskin, New York Times, "The Best Summer Fries, Ranked," 22 May 2018 Those who really believed in the powers of the orgone box/egg also slept on pendulum beds under different colored lights (blue, green) in order to absorb extra stimulated energy., "Kylie Jenner, Crystals & Cults: Inside The Mysterious Orgonite Society," 13 July 2018

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

19 Oct 2018

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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, -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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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