Consider a person who falls with their head coming into contact with the floor first before other parts of their body (back, legs, etc).

Do we say "She fell on her head", "She fell with her head onto the floor", "She fell and hit her head onto the floor", "She dived into the floor", "She fell & dived into the floor"? (And for "dive", do people do it on purpose not accidentally like "fall"?)

  • to fall head first
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 15:19
  • @Lambie, this is interesting, but is it more common than "fell & landed on the head"
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 15:52
  • An infant might fall head-first onto the floor. Not an adult. Falling and hitting your head: could be any part of the head. Fall head first means the head hits the surface first. head first is associated also with diving: diving head-first into the water, jumping feet-first into the water. [falling off his head is very strange, it doesn't exist.]
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:19
  • Question is unfocused; the definitions just add clutter. Consider removing them, so that the description and actual question are easier to find. Commented Aug 13, 2020 at 23:21

3 Answers 3


Common phrases (in Am. English)

"She fell on her head" - she fell landing on her head before any other parts of her body. "Landed on her head" is used similarly, but was used less frequently until ~2006.

"She fell head-first" - she fell with her head oriented downward/toward the object

  • This does not necessarily imply that they landed head-first. (e.g. They fell head-first towards the water, then flipped and landed in a pencil dive.)

"She fell and hit her head" - she fell and her head hits something

  • This does not necessarily imply the orientation of her fall, or that her head hit first. (e.g. Perhaps she landed on her back, and her head hit next).
  • This does not not imply that her head hit the floor. (e.g. Perhaps she fell on the floor, but hit her head on the counter as she fell.)

"She fell down [a well]" - When used with an object like "well" or "hole", "fell down" implies falling into that object.

"She fell down." - When used without an object, "fell down" generally implies the brief, discrete action of falling from a standing position on the ground. E.g.

  • YES: "she was walking, tripped, and fell down."
  • YES: "She fell down five times."

Note: the phrase "fell down" is generally not preferred when expressing distance or duration. E.g.

  • YES: "She fell for 60 seconds before opening her parachute."
  • NO: "She fell down for 60 seconds before opening her parachute."

"She dove to the floor" - She intentionally dove parallel to the ground, landing on the floor. For a visual, picture a sports star diving for a ball, or an action hero under fire diving to safety behind a large object. Unlike "dove into the floor", below, this has been used with some frequency in recent decades.

Other phrases from the question

NO: "She fell with her head onto the floor" - this is an awkward construction, and not one I have personally ever seen used.

NO: "She fell & dived into the floor" - also an awkward construction and not idiomatic. One verb will suffice, and "into" is probably not the right choice.

PROBABLY NOT: "She dove into the floor" - This could be used literally in a (fantasy?) context, where she literally passed into the floor. With care, it could perhaps be used metaphorically, maybe emphasizing the severity of her fall. Both of these are edge cases, however; this is less awkward than the prior examples, but still not a common/normal phrase.


"Dive" implies more deliberation than "fall", true, though you may hear "fall" if the dive was made to look like a fall.

In the image, to me this looks very deliberate and seems to be an actual "move", so I think it would actually be just:

She did a headstand.

Following the additional pictures, I would say this as:

She fell and landed on her head.

She fell on her head.

I prefer the first version of the two above (and don't think the second is anywhere near as idiomatic - it's not as clear in its meaning).

"She fell and hit her head" wouldn't work as she could have hit her head anywhere without landing on it (e.g., on the wall or a table, etc.). "She fell on her head" has a similar problem actually, though it still makes sense.

The "landed" in "She fell and landed on her head" makes it very clear that her head hit the floor first.

For the image with the warning cone, you may also hear this as:

He slipped and landed on his head.

  • Fall and landed on her head? That would be neck breaking, probably. If you "land" on your head, you have gone down head first. If you hit your head after you fall, chances are you will survive.....I personally disagree with landing on one's head unless you are describing a near-death-inducing fall.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:21
  • @Lambie: OP states "head coming into contact with the floor first before other parts of his body", and to me "landing on ones head" would be the best way to describe it without ambiguity. I do see your point, and think that if it were more of a silly accident and not a mortal fall, this would be reflected in a more humourous/playful/tongue-in-cheek tone of voice.
    – Chris Mack
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:25
  • The OP is mistaken about the English used to describe what happens in his first picture. He absolutely wants "fell on her head". Fine by me. That pole dancer fell on her head.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 14, 2020 at 23:47
  • The man slipped and fell, landing ultimately on his head.
  • He slipped and fell, hitting his head [on the floor].
  • The man hit his head when he fell down.

In the posted picture, he fell and then hit his head.

I have never heard of a person falling on a floor and having their head hit the floor first. The shoulder would hit the ground first and the head second. Unless that person were upside down when he or she fell.

For the head to hit the floor first, it would be something like this:

  • The man shot over the handle bars head first.
  • The trapeze artist fell on his head.
  • The infant was dropped on his head.
  • The child fell head-first out of the tree. [He was hanging upside down]
  • The child fell head-first off the monkey bars.

If you google this, you will find "fell and hit his head" is the most likely phrase.

In picture 2, the pole dancer fell on her head. Period.

  • do we have adverbs such as "legs-first" or "arms-first", etc.?
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 3:20

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