Why does "head over heels" mean something extraordinary?

My head is over my heels most of the time, except when I’m sleeping.

I don’t have an answer, but I have always wondered that myself. My head is usually over my heels as well. And I just don’t get ‘ass over teakettle’ either.

I think it’s just in the wrong order, it means “heels over head” more or less. Think of Jack and Jill tumbling down the hill - somersaulting.

“Ass over teakettle” makes me think of the person tumbling over. Perhaps the teakettle is the head.

For no very good reason, I have always visualized somebody doing cartwheels or one of those “roll up into a ball” (like the hedgehogs in Alice in Wonderland’s croquet game) thingies and tumble along the ground or floor.

It is a stupid expression!

I’m a little teakettle,
Short and stout.
Fill me with water,
It pours out my spout.

I wonder if it used to be “heels over head”. Then one day someone slipped up and said “head over heels”, and all of her friends started saying “head over heels” to tease her about it. Somehow it caught on and replaced “heels over head”.

Michael Quinion will tell you all you need to know.

Short answer–yes, it got inverted over 100 years ago.

Round here we would say,

Teapot over kettle,

or Arse ovver tip

Correction: Cecil Adams will tell you all you need to know. Heretic.

Damn! I only hope Cece isn’t reading this thread. :o

“Arse over breakfast time” is what I’ve heard. I don’t know what it means either, it just makes me laugh.

My grandmother said ass over teacup. That paints a picture.

Head over heals meaning you are FLIPPING.

It means you flip backwards. Your head is falling back and is OVER your heals.

If you were going heals over head than you’d be flipping forward.

That’s similar to what I always thought. Heels over head would just be flipping half way. Head over heals would be doing a complete 360[sup]o[/sup].

Hijack, sorry.

That’s an interesting version, where did you grow up? I love hearing different versions of childhood poems and songs.

Now that’s something to set your watch to.

“Head over heels” does have a much nicer rhythm to it.

That’s more likely to be Arse over tit than tip, no?

Yeah! And why is it “born and bred?” Bred comes before born.

Because the words are meant simultaneously, not in chronological order.