As you are probably aware, our contemporary English content is now available through (, and our old English dictionary site no longer exists.

As a result of this, this forum is now closed.

The English dictionary community team would like the opportunity to say a huge thanks to all of you who participated by posting questions and helping other community members.
We hope this forum was useful, and that you enjoyed being a part of it.

If you would like to get in touch with any OED-related queries, please write to
[email protected]

And if you would like to contribute suggestions to the OED, please do so by visiting:

Thank you very much indeed, and good bye!
The community team

weight on heel


Im reading this novel Jasper Jones which its author is Australian. Theres a line that says:

"My weight is on my heel."

I wonder if this is an idiom (perhaps an Australian idiom.)

Please help. Thanks.


  • You'll need to provide more context to judge whether the phrase is idiomatic or not. I've not heard of any such idiom, but that would not preclude the possibility.

    A quick Google search turns up this:

    "...My anticipation is usurped by a sense of terrible foreboding. Something is wrong. Something has happened. My weight is on my heel. I don't want to be here anymore."

    This reads to me like a reference to posture which means the sentence can be taken literally. However, there is a subtext: physiologically the way weight is distributed on your feet can indicate mood or intention. Boxers and dancers have to be very nimble on their feet and so tend to put more weight in the front part of the foot which requires more muscular effort but can react faster; placing more weight on the heel allows the muscles to relax and lets the skeleton take more of the effort of keeping you upright which saves energy but is slower to respond. So, mentioning the fact that the weight is on the heel in this passage is a device to (further) indicate the protagonist's reluctance to continue.

  • PS, you seem to be using the character ` (the button just above [TAB] on a UK keyboard) instead of ' (a normal apostrophe), which is why the text has gone funny.

  • DavidCrosbieDavidCrosbie ✭✭✭
    edited May 2018

    Amos, I answered the start of your post without seeing the end. I too googled in inverted commas "my weight is on my heel", and I think it's worth quoting more of the text.

    It's the narrator recalling in historic present his (it appears to be a boy) physical movements, feelings and thoughts as he follows said Jasper Jones towards a horrific spectacle.

    The tree has an astonishing girth. I can't help but stare straight up to see how far it reaches into the sky. I can feel my pulse thrumming my temples. I'm panting. I need to clean my glasses. When I glance back down, I notice Jasper Jones is staring at me. I can't place his expression. It's as though he's about to leap from something very high. I tilt my head to the side and I'm suddenly fearful. My anticipation is usurped by a sense of dreadful foreboding. Something is wrong. Something has happened. My weight is on my heel. I don't want to be here anymore.

    I'm not sure I share your sense of subtext.

    I feel rather that the author is trying build up to a climax by conveying mental and physical sensations that are random and incoherent — that he actually does briefly sense his actual weight on his actual heel.

    If I'm right, then the device doesn't really work — not for me, anyway — and that's why it stands out as something strange.

    The feeling of weight on his heel is of no obvious relevance, but the same can be said for the feeling that his glasses need cleaning.

  • Hi @DavidCrosbie,

    I think that, however we choose to interpret the text, we can at least agree that the wording ought to be interpreted literally rather than idiomatically.

  • Absolutely @Amos.

    The author may well have intended the sort of subtext you suggest, but for me it fails totally.

Sign In or Register to comment.