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 The pendulum swings on whether laughter is the best medicine for tragedy or talking through a terrible event with someone trusted is the way to go. Ali Lerman, Los Angeles Times, 8 Mar. 2022 The pendulum always swings back and forth between optimism and pessimism, excitement and despair. Ben Carlson, Fortune, 4 Feb. 2022 Health care workers deserve an explanation for how the pendulum swings to favor the rock or the hard place. Orly Nadell Farber, STAT, 14 Jan. 2022 Sometimes, the pendulum swings to the other extreme -- freezing temperatures. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 28 Dec. 2021 But, as always, the pendulum eventually swings, as is the case with the network's newest offering, Naomi, a coming-of-age tale about a young woman destined to become a great hero — just maybe not a supersuited one... at least not yet. Chancellor Agard,, 13 Dec. 2021 The pendulum constantly swings in the world of wine, and today, thankfully, the smartest producers are crafting the wine that the land in which the vines grow is most well-suited to produce. Brian Freedman, Forbes, 8 Nov. 2021 Usually, but not always, the pendulum swings against the president in the commonwealth. Eric Bradner, Gregory Krieg And Dan Merica, CNN, 2 Nov. 2021 Just as a team reaches its apex and everything appeared to be going its way, the pendulum swings back in the other direction. Akeem Glaspie, The Indianapolis Star, 1 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

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

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best smart scales.

Learn More About pendulum

Time Traveler for pendulum

Time Traveler

The first known use of pendulum was in 1660

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near pendulum

pendulous crop


pendulum gun

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for pendulum

Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pendulum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for pendulum


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

More from Merriam-Webster on pendulum

Nglish: Translation of pendulum for Spanish Speakers

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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