When I am reading the question Can adding weight to something make it fall slower? in Physics SE, I notice that (or think that) the reason it can get to the Hot Question zone is the misunderstanding of the word fall that the OP (and I (and even you)). For anyone who has learnt physics, when they see the keywords "add weight" and "fall", their mind will automatically recall to the famous experiment of Galilei in the Pisa tower. That experiment is about the freely falling of the object, while the phenomenon that the OP trying to explain is the falling of the tip of the stick whose the other end lays on the ground. I think changing the title will make it clearer, but I don't know how to change.

I think that the word fall when it doesn't have context will be thought to fall freely in the air. Is there a word for the falling action of a stick with one end is at the ground, not falling freely in the air?

  • 1
    Is no one going to offer the super obvious tip over? Someone please make an answer of that (no attribution to me needed); I'm on the road and I can't.
    – Dan Bron
    May 9, 2015 at 17:54
  • @DanBron: Noted that tip is a synonym of tilt. Thanks.
    – jxh
    May 9, 2015 at 17:59

3 Answers 3


The stick is actually rotating. Gravity is the force applying the torque. Surface resistance keeps the other end pinned to the ground. From Wikipedia (emphasis mine):

Torque, moment, or moment of force ... is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot.

I would refer to the event as tilting.

: to cause to have an inclination
: to move or shift so as to lean or incline : slant
Merriam-Webster online

Note that tilt has synonyms slant, lean, tip, and topple. (Thanks to Dan Bron for the tip.)

  • +1. But it's not just tilt or tip, or even tipping, it's tip over.
    – Dan Bron
    May 9, 2015 at 20:12
  • @DanBron: I agree that adding over is idiomatic.
    – jxh
    May 9, 2015 at 20:37

If I understand it, you want a word for the act of falling down when one extremety of the object is already on the ground. If that's it, I suggest...

-"tumble" (verb) to fall suddenly and helplessly, to suffer a sudden downfall.

  • "He tripped and tumbled to the ground."
  • "The statue came tumbling down during the riots."

I'm not sure this could be used in a text on physics, though.

  • The word tumble is more commonly used in physics for things that change their orientation while rotating. May 9, 2015 at 17:56
  • How anout the downfall?
    – Ooker
    May 10, 2015 at 5:08

How about topple?

  • "to fall forward, as from top-heaviness or weakness; pitch" (TFD)

This may imply that it was balanced to start with, but that is only an implication.

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