+0
Hi,

What does 'hang over one's head' mean here?
She didn't want to live with a pendulum hanging over her head.
Thanks in advance.
1 2
Comments  
Hi Anon,
This is a bit of a mixed metaphor. There is a famous story about the Sword of Damocles.Here is one version: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damocles

It's used to refer to something dangerous that happen to you at any time.
Your writer used the word "pendulum" instead of "sword." I don't know if the writer was confused, or if she or he had a reason to use that word instead.
It is an idiom meaning to live in presence of danger, the threat of something bad that could happen at any time.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Thanks GG and AlpheccaStars for your answers.

Does The idiom 'hang over her head' mean the same as 'hang over her'?

"With the exams hanging over her head, she can't sleep at night."

What does 'hang over her head' mean here?

Thanks a lot.
There are two stories mixed in the quote.

One is a sword hanging over Damocles head. The second is the Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allen Poe. The idiom is always "hang over one's head" as in the sword of Damocles.You can read both stories in full on line, but here are a summary and an excerpt

Damocles was an excessively flattering courtier in the court of Dionysius II, a fourth century BC tyrant of Syracuse. Damocles exclaimed that, as a great man of power and authority, Dionysius was truly fortunate. Dionysius offered to switch places with him for a day, so he could taste first hand that fortune. In the evening a banquet was held where Damocles very much enjoyed being waited upon like a king. Only at the end of the meal did he look up and notice a sharpened sword hanging directly above his head by a single horse-hair. Immediately, he lost all taste for the fine foods and beautiful boys and asked leave of the tyrant, saying he no longer wanted to be so fortunate.
Pit and the Pendulum

Looking upward, I surveyed the ceiling of my prison. It was some thirty or forty feet overhead, and constructed much as the side walls. In one of its panels a very singular figure riveted my whole attention. It was the painted figure of Time as he is commonly represented, save that in lieu of a scythe he held what at a casual glance I supposed to be the pictured image of a huge pendulum, such as we see on antique clocks. There was something, however, in the appearance of this machine which caused me to regard it more attentively. While I gazed directly upward at it (for its position was immediately over my own), I fancied that I saw it in motion. In an instant afterward the fancy was confirmed. Its sweep was brief, and of course slow. I watched it for some minutes, somewhat in fear but more in wonder. Wearied at length with observing its dull movement, I turned my eyes upon the other objects in the cell. ...
It might have been half-an-hour, perhaps even an hour (for I could take but imperfect note of time) before I again cast my eyes upward. What I then saw confounded and amazed me. The sweep of the pendulum had increased in extent by nearly a yard. As a natural consequence, its velocity was also much greater. But what mainly disturbed me was the idea that it had perceptibly DESCENDED. I now observed, with what horror it is needless to say, that its nether extremity was formed of a crescent of glittering steel, about a foot in length from horn to horn; the horns upward, and the under edge evidently as keen as that of a razor. Like a razor also it seemed massy and heavy, tapering from the edge into a solid and broad structure above. It was appended to a weighty rod of brass, and the whole HISSED as it swung through the air.
What boots it to tell of the long, long hours of horror more than mortal, during which I counted the rushing oscillations of the steel! Inch by inch- line by line with a descent only appreciable at intervals that seemed ages-down and still down it came! Days passed- it might have been that many days passed ere it swept so closely over me as to fan me with its acrid breath. The odour of the sharp steel forced itself into my nostrils. I prayed -I wearied heaven with my prayer for its more speedy descent.

Hi AlpheccaStars,

Thank you for your reply.
Do '...a pendulum hanging over one's head and '...a sword hanging over one's head' mean the same?

"With the exams hanging over her head, she can't sleep at night."

Could you tell what 'hang over her head' mean in the example above? I don't think 'exams' are dangerous to her?
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
If something is hanging over your head, it means that you're worrying about it. It's on your mind.
AnonymousDo '...a pendulum hanging over one's head and '...a sword hanging over one's head' mean the same?
No, they mean exactly what they say. A pendulum is not the same thing as a sword.
I only quoted the stories from the past. This is the origin of the expression "hang over one's head."
AnonymousI don't think 'exams' are dangerous to her?
Well, if she fails the exams there might be bad things that happen as a result. If something is "hanging over your head", it means that you are very worried about it, even though it might not literally kill you. Emotion: smile
Hi,

Thank you very much for your helpful replies, Anon and AlpheccaStars.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Show more