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I found in the novel 'The Ladykiller' by Martina Cole the following:

'His mother's fist hit him in the back of his head and sent him careering into the room.'

What is the meaning of the phrase 'send somebody/something careering'?Is this phrase an idiom?

I found in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English the following:

send somebody/something flying/sprawling/reeling etc = to make someone or something move quickly through the air or across something. For eg. The explosion sent glass flying everywhere.

Do the phrases 'send somebody/something careering ' and 'send sb/sth flying/sprawling/reeling etc' have the same meaning?

Is there any dictionary that mentions all the words which can be used in the phrase 'send somebody/something ...ing'?

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His mother's fist hit him in the back of his head and sent him careering into the room.

careering - (especially of a vehicle) to move fast and in a way that is out of control. Source of meaning

careering - to go at top speed especially in a headlong manner. Source of meaning

On both the sites you can see examples where there is particular mention of a car or a vehicle in general. This means that it mostly used in those cases of a car moving at an extremely high, uncontrollable speed.

However, the sentence in the book clearly says that there is a hit on the boy's head (from his mom) which makes him stumble into the room. Now stumble won't the very right verb here, perhaps reeling or falling back. Hence it is evident that this term is used to convey the same meaning as the phrase sent someone flying.


The most usual phrase is send someone/something flying. The rest of them are modifications of this main phrase adapted by different authors and writers. You can mostly use verbs which are synonymous to moving swiftly (and in a rather uncontrollable manner).

  • send someone/something hurtling
  • send someone/something careening (North American)
  • send someone/something blasting
  • send someone/something stumbling
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  • Is English your mother language? The phrase 'send someone /something flying/sprawling/reeling etc' means 'to make someone /something move quickly through the air or across something'.With this phrase we mean that the person or the thing that moves quickly maybe will fall down to the ground or maybe will move quickly through the air or across something without falling down to the ground? – Marios Athanasiou Nov 26 '20 at 7:53
  • @MariosAthanasiou No, English is not my native language. However there is only this one or two sites which actually states this meaning. If you look into the literal meanings, only flying would suggest, well flying. If you would look upon the meanings of the other two words, namely sprawling and reeling, none really states that it means flying across the room. And its common sense, nothing really goes flying (unless you are Superman). – Dhanishtha Ghosh Nov 26 '20 at 10:49
  • @MariosAthanasiou Also, they are pretty understandable by the sentences used for such meanings. For example in Meriam Webster Dictionary, it is written, She tripped and went sprawling into the table. Does this mean she fell to the ground or she went flying across the room? Also according to Cambridge Dictionary, I knocked into her in the corridor and sent her sprawling. Does this necessarily mean any fast motion? – Dhanishtha Ghosh Nov 26 '20 at 10:52
  • @MariosAthanasiou As I have already said in my answer, this are variations invented by authors themselves, most which aren't as common as others. Merriam Webster only lists this one possibility, which is similar to the phrase I have already written in my answer. – Dhanishtha Ghosh Nov 26 '20 at 11:06

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