give head


  1. the upper part of the body in humans, joined to the trunk by the neck, containing the brain, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
  2. the corresponding part of the body in other animals.
  3. the head considered as the center of the intellect, as of thought, memory, understanding, or emotional control; mind; brain: She has a good head for mathematics. Keep a cool head in an emergency.
  4. the position or place of leadership, greatest authority, or honor.
  5. a person to whom others are subordinate, as the director of an institution or the manager of a department; leader or chief.
  6. a person considered with reference to his or her mind, disposition, attributes, status, etc.: wise heads; crowned heads.
  7. that part of anything that forms or is regarded as forming the top, summit, or upper end: head of a pin; head of a page.
  8. the foremost part or front end of anything or a forward projecting part: head of a procession.
  9. the part of a weapon, tool, etc., used for striking: the head of a hammer.
  10. a person or animal considered merely as one of a number, herd, or group: ten head of cattle; a dinner at $20 a head.
  11. a culminating point, usually of a critical nature; crisis or climax: to bring matters to a head.
  12. the hair covering the head: to wash one’s head.
  13. froth or foam at the top of a liquid: the head on beer.
  14. Botany.
    1. any dense flower cluster or inflorescence.
    2. any other compact part of a plant, usually at the top of the stem, as that composed of leaves in the cabbage or lettuce, of leafstalks in the celery, or of flower buds in the cauliflower.
  15. the maturated part of an abscess, boil, etc.
  16. a projecting point of a coast, especially when high, as a cape, headland, or promontory.
  17. the obverse of a coin, as bearing a head or other principal figure (opposed to tail).
  18. one of the chief parts or points of a written or oral discourse; a main division of a subject, theme, or topic.
  19. something resembling a head in form or a representation of a head, as a piece of sculpture.
  20. the source of a river or stream.
  21. Slang.
    1. a habitual user of a drug, especially LSD or marijuana (often used in combination): feds versus the heads; an acid-head; a pothead.
    2. a fan or devotee (usually used in combination): a punk-rock head; a chili head.
  22. heads, Distilling. alcohol produced during the initial fermentation.Compare tail1(def 6d).
  23. headline.
  24. a toilet or lavatory, especially on a boat or ship.
  25. Nautical.
    1. the forepart of a vessel; bow.
    2. the upper edge of a quadrilateral sail.
    3. the upper corner of a jib-headed sail.
    4. that part of the upper end of one spar of a mast that is overlapped by a spar above; a doubling at the upper end of a spar.
    5. that part of the upper end of a mast between the highest standing rigging and the truck.
    6. crown(def 29).
  26. Grammar.
    1. the member of an endocentric construction that belongs to the same form class and may play the same grammatical role as the construction itself.
    2. the member upon which another depends and to which it is subordinate. In former presidents, presidents is head and former is modifier.
  27. the stretched membrane covering the end of a drum or similar musical instrument.
  28. Mining. a level or road driven into solid coal for proving or working a mine.
  29. Machinery. any of various devices on machine tools for holding, moving, indexing, or changing tools or work, as the headstock or turret of a lathe.
  30. Railroads. railhead(def 3).
  31. (loosely) the pressure exerted by confined fluid: a head of steam.
  32. Also called pressure head. Hydraulics.
    1. the vertical distance between two points in a liquid, as water, or some other fluid
    2. the pressure differential resulting from this separation, expressed in terms of the vertical distance between the points.
    3. the pressure of a fluid expressed in terms of the height of a column of liquid yielding an equivalent pressure.
  33. Also called magnetic head. Electronics. the part or parts of a tape recorder that record, play back, or erase magnetic signals on magnetic tape.Compare erasing head, playback head, recording head.
  34. Computers. read/write head.
  35. Photography.
    1. a mounting for a camera, as on a tripod.
    2. the part of an enlarger that contains the light source, negative carrier, lensboard, and lens.
  36. Slang: Vulgar. fellatio or cunnilingus.
  37. Archaic. power, strength, or force progressively gathered or gradually attained.
  38. heads up! Informal. be careful! watch out for danger!


  1. first in rank or position; chief; leading; principal: a head official.
  2. of, relating to, or for the head (often used in combination): head covering; headgear; headpiece.
  3. situated at the top, front, or head of anything (often used in combination): headline; headboard.
  4. moving or coming from a direction in front of the head or prow of a vessel: head sea; head tide; head current.
  5. Slang. of or relating to drugs, drug paraphernalia, or drug users.

verb (used with object)

  1. to go at the head of or in front of; lead; precede: to head a list.
  2. to outdo or excel; take the lead in or over: to head a race; to head one’s competitors in a field.
  3. to be the head or chief of (sometimes followed by up): to head a school; to head up a department.
  4. to direct the course of; turn the head or front of in a specified direction: I’ll head the boat for the shore. Head me in the right direction and I’ll walk to the store.
  5. to go around the head of (a stream).
  6. to furnish or fit with a head.
  7. to take the head off; decapitate; behead.
  8. to remove the upper branches of (a tree).
  9. Fox Hunting. to turn aside (a fox) from its intended course.
  10. to get in front of in order to stop, turn aside, attack, etc.
  11. headline(def 4).
  12. Soccer. to propel (the ball) by striking it with the head, especially with the forehead.

verb (used without object)

  1. to move forward toward a point specified; direct one’s course; go in a certain direction: to head toward town.
  2. to come or grow to a head; form a head: Cabbage heads quickly.
  3. (of a river or stream) to have the head or source where specified.

Verb Phrases

  1. head off, to go before in order to hinder the progress of; intercept: The police headed off the fleeing driver at a railroad crossing.
  1. (down) by the head, Nautical. so loaded as to draw more water forward than aft.
  2. come to a head,
    1. to suppurate, as a boil.
    2. to reach a crisis; culminate: The struggle for power came to a head.
  3. get one’s head together, Slang. to have one’s actions, thoughts, or emotions under control or in order: If he’d get his head together, maybe he’d get to work on time.
  4. give head, Slang: Vulgar. to perform fellatio or cunnilingus.
  5. give someone his/her head, to permit someone to do as he or she likes; allow someone freedom of choice: She wanted to go away to college, and her parents gave her her head.
  6. go to someone’s head,
    1. to make someone dizzy or drunk; overcome one with excitement: Power went to his head. The brandy went to his head.
    2. to make someone conceited or self-important: Success went to his head.
  7. hang one’s head, to become dejected or ashamed: When he realized what an unkind thing he had done, he hung his head in shame.Also hide one’s head.
  8. have one’s head screwed on right/straight, Informal. to be sensible or rational: It seems like these young people have their heads screwed on right and that our future is in great hands.Also have one’s head on right/straight.
  9. head and shoulders,
    1. far better, more qualified, etc.; superior: In intelligence, he was head and shoulders above the rest of the children in the class.
    2. force.
  10. head over heels,
    1. headlong, as in a somersault: He tripped and fell head over heels into the gully.
    2. intensely; completely: head over heels in love.
    3. impulsively; carelessly: They plunged head over heels into the fighting.
  11. head to head, in direct opposition or competition: The candidates will debate head to head.
  12. keep one’s head, to remain calm or poised, as in the midst of crisis or confusion: It was fortunate that someone kept his head and called a doctor.
  13. keep one’s head above water, to remain financially solvent: Despite their debts, they are managing to keep their heads above water.
  14. lay/put heads together, to meet in order to discuss, consult, or scheme: Neither of them had enough money for a tour of Europe, so they put their heads together and decided to find jobs there.
  15. lose one’s head, to become uncontrolled or wildly excited: When he thought he saw an animal in the underbrush, he lost his head and began shooting recklessly.
  16. make head, to progress or advance, especially despite opposition; make headway: There have been many delays, but we are at last making head.
  17. make heads roll, to exert authority by firing or dismissing employees or subordinates: He made heads roll as soon as he took office.
  18. not make head or tail of, to be unable to understand or decipher: We couldn’t make head or tail of the strange story.Also not make heads or tails of.
  19. off the top of one’s head, candidly or extemporaneously: Off the top of my head, I’d say that’s right.
  20. one’s head off, extremely; excessively: We screamed our heads off at that horror movie. He laughed his head off at the monkey’s antics.
  21. on one’s head, as one’s responsibility or fault: Because of his reckless driving he now has the deaths of three persons on his head.
  22. out of one’s head/mind,
    1. insane; crazy.
    2. Informal.delirious; irrational: You’re out of your head if you accept those terms.
  23. over one’s head,
    1. beyond one’s comprehension, ability, or resources: The classical allusion went right over his head.
    2. beyond one’s financial resources or ability to pay: He’s lost over his head in that poker game.
  24. over someone’s head, to appeal to someone having a superior position or prior claim: She went over her supervisor’s head and complained to a vice president.
  25. pull one’s head in, Australian Slang. to keep quiet or mind one’s own business; shut up.
  26. rear its (ugly) head, (of something undesirable) to emerge or make an appearance, especially after being hidden: Jealousy reared its ugly head and destroyed their relationship.
  27. take it into one’s head, to form a notion, purpose, or plan: She took it into her head to study medicine.Also take into one’s head.
  28. turn someone’s head,
    1. to cause someone to become smug or conceited: Her recent success has completely turned her head.
    2. to cause one to become foolish or confused: A whirlwind romance has quite turned his head.


  1. Edith. 1907–81, US dress designer: won many Oscars for her Hollywood film costume designs


  1. the upper or front part of the body in vertebrates, including man, that contains and protects the brain, eyes, mouth, and nose and ears when presentRelated adjective: cephalic
  2. the corresponding part of an invertebrate animal
  3. something resembling a head in form or function, such as the top of a tool
    1. the person commanding most authority within a group, organization, etc
    2. (as modifier)head buyer
    3. (in combination)headmaster
  4. the position of leadership or commandat the head of his class
    1. the most forward part of a thing; a part that juts out; frontthe head of a queue
    2. (as modifier)head point
  5. the highest part of a thing; upper endthe head of the pass
  6. the froth on the top of a glass of beer
  7. aptitude, intelligence, and emotions (esp in the phrases above or over one’s head, have a head for, keep one’s head, lose one’s head, etc)she has a good head for figures; a wise old head
  8. plural head a person or animal considered as a unitthe show was two pounds per head; six hundred head of cattle
  9. the head considered as a measure of length or heighthe’s a head taller than his mother
  10. botany
    1. a dense inflorescence such as that of the daisy and other composite plants
    2. any other compact terminal part of a plant, such as the leaves of a cabbage or lettuce
  11. a culmination or crisis (esp in the phrase bring or come to a head)
  12. the pus-filled tip or central part of a pimple, boil, etc
  13. the head considered as the part of the body on which hair grows denselya fine head of hair
  14. the source or origin of a river or stream
  15. (capital when part of name) a headland or promontory, esp a high one
  16. the obverse of a coin, usually bearing a portrait of the head or a full figure of a monarch, deity, etcCompare tail 1
  17. a main point or division of an argument, discourse, etc
  18. (often plural) the headline at the top of a newspaper article or the heading of a section within an article
  19. nautical
    1. the front part of a ship or boat
    2. (in sailing ships) the upper corner or edge of a sail
    3. the top of any spar or derrick
    4. any vertical timber cut to shape
    5. (often plural) a slang word for lavatory
  20. grammar another word for governor (def. 7)
  21. the taut membrane of a drum, tambourine, etc
    1. the height of the surface of liquid above a specific point, esp when considered or used as a measure of the pressure at that pointa head of four feet
    2. pressure of water, caused by height or velocity, measured in terms of a vertical column of water
    3. any pressurea head of steam in the boiler
  22. slang
    1. a person who regularly takes drugs, esp LSD or cannabis
    2. (in combination)an acidhead; a pothead
  23. mining a road driven into the coal face
    1. the terminal point of a route
    2. (in combination)railhead
  24. a device on a turning or boring machine, such as a lathe, that is equipped with one or more cutting tools held to the work by this device
  25. See cylinder head
  26. an electromagnet that can read, write, or erase information on a magnetic medium such as a magnetic tape, disk, or drum, used in computers, tape recorders, etc
  27. informal short for headmaster, headmistress
    1. the head of a horse considered as a narrow margin in the outcome of a race (in the phrase win by a head)
    2. any narrow margin of victory (in the phrase (win) by a head)
  28. informal short for headache
  29. curling the stones lying in the house after all 16 have been played
  30. bowls the jack and the bowls that have been played considered together as a target area
  31. against the head rugby from the opposing side’s put-in to the scrum
  32. bite someone’s head off or snap someone’s head off to speak sharply and angrily to someone
  33. (bring or come to a head)
    1. to bring or be brought to a crisismatters came to a head
    2. (of a boil) to cause to be or be about to burst
  34. get it into one’s head to come to believe (an idea, esp a whimsical one)he got it into his head that the earth was flat
  35. give head slang to perform fellatio
  36. give someone his head to allow a person greater freedom or responsibility
  37. give a horse its head to allow a horse to gallop by lengthening the reins
  38. go to one’s head
    1. to make one dizzy or confused, as might an alcoholic drink
    2. to make one conceitedhis success has gone to his head
  39. head and shoulders above greatly superior to
  40. head over heels
    1. turning a complete somersault
    2. completely; utterly (esp in the phrase head over heels in love)
  41. hold up one’s head to be unashamed
  42. keep one’s head to remain calm
  43. keep one’s head above water to manage to survive a difficult experience
  44. make head to make progress
  45. make head or tail of (used with a negative) to attempt to understand (a problem, etc)he couldn’t make head or tail of the case
  46. off one’s head or out of one’s head slang insane or delirious
  47. off the top of one’s head without previous thought; impromptu
  48. on one’s head or on one’s own head at one’s (own) risk or responsibility
  49. one’s head off slang loudly or excessivelythe baby cried its head off
  50. over someone’s head
    1. without a person in the obvious position being considered, esp for promotionthe graduate was promoted over the heads of several of his seniors
    2. without consulting a person in the obvious position but referring to a higher authorityin making his complaint he went straight to the director, over the head of his immediate boss
    3. beyond a person’s comprehension
  51. put their heads together informal to consult together
  52. take it into one’s head to conceive a notion, desire, or wish (to do something)
  53. turn heads to be so beautiful, unusual, or impressive as to attract a lot of attention
  54. turn something on its head or stand something on its head to treat or present something in a completely new and different wayhealth care which has turned orthodox medicine on its head
  55. turn someone’s head to make someone vain, conceited, etc


  1. (tr) to be at the front or top ofto head the field
  2. (tr often foll by up) to be in the commanding or most important position
  3. (often foll by for) to go or cause to go (towards)where are you heading?
  4. to turn or steer (a vessel) as specifiedto head into the wind
  5. soccer to propel (the ball) by striking it with the head
  6. (tr) to provide with or be a head or headingto head a letter; the quotation which heads chapter 6
  7. (tr) to cut the top branches or shoots off (a tree or plant)
  8. (intr) to form a head, as a boil or plant
  9. (intr often foll by in) (of streams, rivers, etc) to originate or rise in
  10. head them Australian to toss the coins in a game of two-up

“to be at the head or in the lead,” c.1200, from head (n.). Meaning “to direct the head (toward)” is from c.1600. Related: headed, heading. The earliest use of the word as a verb meant “behead” (Old English heafdian). Verbal phrase head up “supervise, direct” is attested by 1930.


“most important, principal, leading,” c.1200, from head (n.). Old English heafod was used in this sense in compounds.


Old English heafod “top of the body,” also “upper end of a slope,” also “chief person, leader, ruler; capital city,” from Proto-Germanic *haubudam (cf. Old Saxon hobid, Old Norse hofuð, Old Frisian haved, Middle Dutch hovet, Dutch hoofd, Old High German houbit, German Haupt, Gothic haubiþ “head”), from PIE *kaput- “head” (cf. Sanskrit kaput-, Latin caput “head”).

Modern spelling is early 15c., representing what was then a long vowel (as in heat) and remained after pronunciation shifted. Of rounded tops of plants from late 14c. Meaning “origin of a river” is mid-14c. Meaning “obverse of a coin” is from 1680s; meaning “foam on a mug of beer” is first attested 1540s; meaning “toilet” is from 1748, based on location of crew toilet in the bow (or head) of a ship. Synechdochic use for “person” (as in head count) is first attested late 13c.; of cattle, etc., in this sense from 1510s. As a height measure of persons, from c.1300. Meaning “drug addict” (usually in a compound with the preferred drug as the first element) is from 1911.

To give head “perform fellatio” is from 1950s. Phrase heads will roll “people will be punished” (1930) translates Adolf Hitler. Head case “eccentric or insane person” is from 1979. Head game “mental manipulation” attested by 1972. To have (one’s) head up (one’s) ass is attested by 1978.


  1. The uppermost or forwardmost part of the human body, containing the brain and the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and jaws.
  2. The analogous part of various vertebrate and invertebrate animals.
  3. The pus-containing tip of an abscess, boil, or pimple.
  4. The rounded proximal end of a long bone.
  5. The end of a muscle that is attached to the less movable part of the skeleton.

In addition to the idioms beginning with head

  • head above water, keep one’s
  • head and shoulders above
  • head for
  • head in the clouds, have one’s
  • head in the sand
  • head off
  • head on
  • head or tail
  • head out
  • head over heels
  • heads or tails
  • head start
  • heads up
  • heads will roll
  • head up

also see:

  • beat into someone’s head
  • beat one’s head against the wall
  • big head
  • bite someone’s head off
  • bring to a head
  • can’t make head or tail of
  • count noses (heads)
  • do blindfolded (standing on one’s head)
  • enter one’s mind (head)
  • eyes in the back of one’s head
  • from head to toe
  • get into one’s head
  • get one’s head examined
  • get through one’s head
  • give someone his or her head
  • good head on one’s shoulders
  • go to one’s head
  • hang one’s head
  • hang over (one’s head)
  • have a head for
  • have a screw loose (head screwed on right)
  • hide one’s head
  • hide one’s head in the sand
  • hit the nail on the head
  • hold a gun to someone’s head
  • hold one’s head high
  • in over one’s head
  • keep one’s head
  • laugh one’s head off
  • like a chicken with its head cut off
  • lose one’s head
  • make one’s head spin
  • need like a hole in the head
  • not right in the head
  • off one’s head
  • off the top of one’s head
  • on one’s head
  • on the block (put one’s head)
  • over one’s head
  • price on one’s head
  • put ideas in someone’s head
  • put our heads together
  • rear its ugly head
  • rocks in one’s head
  • roof over one’s head
  • scratch one’s head
  • shake one’s head
  • soft in the head
  • swelled head
  • talk someone’s arm (head) off
  • throw oneself (at someone’s head)
  • touched in the head
  • trouble one’s head
  • turn one’s head
  • upside the head
  • use one’s head
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