I feel like I have seen fidgety people described as being in perpetual motion before, however when I googled it to see if this was the correct usage of the term all I could find where perpetual motion machines. I was fairly certain this was an actual phrase you could describe people with, but could not find any evidence to suggest it was. Does anyone know if you can use the phrase like that? If so where have you seen it used?

I'm aware of the what the words mean seperately, I'm asking as they seem to have a different connotation/meaning when used together as a phrase

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    It's a transferred usage, and would not be used of a person in the most formal of registers. Apr 4, 2018 at 10:26
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    Look in a dictionary for "perpetual" and for "motion". Congratulations, you now know as much as anyone else is to whether a person can be "in perpetual motion".
    – AndyT
    Apr 4, 2018 at 10:32
  • a ceaselessly moving individual
    – lbf
    Apr 4, 2018 at 15:42
  • Understand that "perpetual motion", in this sense, is hyperbole.
    – Hot Licks
    May 14, 2019 at 21:49

1 Answer 1


The phrase itself is slang as it is not meant to be used with the actual meanings of the word perpetual.

If a person is described as being in perpetual motion, they are describing the person as always moving or in constant motion, which is what a fidgety person would appear to be doing.

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