A Facebook comment alerted me to a misspelling of the word pendulum that I’d never seen before. Once I began looking, I found thousands of examples.
I wasn’t too surprised to find the word misspelled in social media, but it did seem strange to see pendulum spelled “pentulum” on sites selling clocks.
Here are a few examples of this misspelling of pendulum:
The pentulum swings. Public opinion will out in the end. (Facebook)
In some countries, [the] political pentulum can swing wildly between opposite extremes. (political blog)
I plan to start researching ideas to re-enter [the market] when the pentulum swings back to oversold. (stockmarket site)
The one-day weight-driven movement has brass and steel gears that swing the pentulum. (clock merchant’s site)
Pendulum is from the Latin adjective pendulus, “hanging down.”
Literally, a pendulum is a weighted rod, cord, or wire suspended from a fixed point. The word is most closely associated with the pendulum that regulates the movement of a clock.
Figuratively, a pendulum is anything that swings back and forth from one extreme to another. For example, one may speak of “the pendulum of public opinion” or “the pendulum of fashion.”
English has several “pend words” that derive from the idea of hanging down or hanging from. See Hanging Words.