Definition of head in English:

head

Line breaks: head
Pronunciation: /hɛd
 
/

noun

1The upper part of the human body, or the front or upper part of the body of an animal, typically separated from the rest of the body by a neck, and containing the brain, mouth, and sense organs.
More example sentences
  • Trying to determine the reason for the human logjam, I craned my neck trying to see over the heads of the rest of the parishioners.
  • Stretch your arms upwards and imagine you're trying to grasp something just above your head.
  • Gods are all represented as having animal heads, and bodies of humans.
Synonyms
skull, cranium, crown
informal nut, noodle, noddle, nob, noggin, dome
British informal bonce, napper
Scottish & Northern English informal poll
informal , dated bean, conk
archaic pate, Costard, crumpet
1.1The head regarded as the location of intellect, imagination, and memory: whatever comes into my head
More example sentences
  • The drawing is from memory - from inside their heads - from their imaginations.
  • The Archdeacon led a minute's silence as the congregation held a picture in their heads of their favourite memory of the twins.
  • While I've a house full of things he gave me, and a head full of memories, this glorious sound is the best gift of them all.
Synonyms
brain, brains, brainpower, intellect, intelligence, intellectual capacity, mental capacity, powers of reasoning; wit, wits, wisdom, mind, sense, reasoning, rationality, mentality, understanding, common sense
informal nous, grey matter, savvy, brainbox, brain cells, upper storey
British informal loaf
North American informal smarts
South African informal kop
1.2 (head for) An aptitude for or tolerance of: she had a good head for business a head for heights
More example sentences
  • I'm no good at IQ tests - I have no head for numbers and score lower than I should.
  • She just doesn't have a head for figures.
  • To walk to the top of these hills requires a strong heart and a head for heights.
Synonyms
1.3 informal A headache, especially one resulting from intoxication.
More example sentences
  • I've got a splitting head.
  • I told them they could keep the tablets in case they got a bad head on them some morning.
  • What a night, and what a bad head the next morning.
1.4The height or length of a head as a measure: he was beaten by a head
More example sentences
  • In the Hong Kong Sprint Falvelon beat Morluc by a head and both horses were on hand to renew battle this year.
  • I was astonished to see that I was a good head taller than him.
  • His last victory came by a head in a six-furlong claiming race at Beulah Park.
1.5 (heads) The side of a coin bearing the image of a head (used when tossing a coin to determine a winner): heads or tails?
More example sentences
  • We decided to toss a coin: heads Rome, tails Paris.
  • I assign a probability of 0.5 to the coin falling heads on a fair toss coming to rest on one side or the other.
  • Some magicians can make a coin come up heads on every toss - even when they don't use a two-headed coin.
1.6The antlers of a deer: stags yearly cast their heads in March
2A thing resembling a head either in form or in relation to a whole, in particular:
2.1The cutting, striking, or operational end of a tool, weapon, or mechanism.
More example sentences
  • He wired up players with heart rate monitors and breathing sensors, and lights were attached to the heads of the putting clubs to allow their movements to be studied.
  • Pushing forth, he jabbed the head of the weapon into the greaves of the incoming phalanx.
  • Adjustment of the cutting heads allows a great variety of moldings to be manufactured.
2.2The flattened or knobbed end of a nail, pin, screw, or match.
More example sentences
  • Now officers at Belmarsh prison, London, have discovered him building a bomb inside prison using match heads and nails from prison furniture.
  • Iron stains may be easy to diagnose because they are often near nail heads, screw heads or other hardware.
  • Countersink nail and screw heads that are sticking up above the surface.
2.3The ornamented top of a pillar or column.
More example sentences
  • Ducts in the precast double wall carry cooled air which flows into the prayer hall through grilles in the column heads.
  • Interiors are relatively plain, with decoration confined to the square column heads.
2.4A compact mass of leaves or flowers at the top of a stem, especially a capitulum: huge heads of fluffy cream flowers
More example sentences
  • All have more or less narrow, mostly one-nerved leaves, and flowers in small compact heads.
  • Plants with light to moderate crown rot generally survive but often tiller poorly and have small leaves and heads on the main stem.
  • Euphorbia wulfenii is in full bloom with sprawling stems covered in furry grey-green leaves and topped with heavy heads of lime-green flowers.
2.5The edible leafy part at the top of the stem of such green vegetables as cabbage and lettuce.
More example sentences
  • This is a traditional English variety, with tender stems and small leafy purple heads.
  • What about a head of crisp, green lettuce for that fresh salad you were wanting to prepare?
  • The Powley vegetable growers are running a competition for the biggest head of cabbage.
3The front, forward, or upper part or end of something, in particular:
Synonyms
front, beginning, start, fore, forefront, top, leading position, foremost position
3.1The upper end of a table or bed: he sat down at the head of the cot
More example sentences
  • They made their way to the grand room where the King sat at the head of the long table.
  • Could you please position yourself at the bed's head?
  • I was put at the head of the table in between Teodora, and Ivan, her Serbian uncle.
3.2The upper horizontal part of a window frame or door frame.
More example sentences
  • The tower appears to be structurally sound but internally the condition of the wall tops, window heads and windowsills are greatly degraded.
  • In The Music Lesson it is possible to see that the joists are supported at the left on a timber lintel or wall-plate, running across the heads of the windows.
  • The tower is four-staged, the topmost with four double belfry windows with triangular heads and mid-wall shafts.
3.3The flat end of a cask or drum.
More example sentences
  • The bass drum is the largest orchestral drum: normally it has two heads.
  • He'll split the heads of his drums into different textures and has contact mics on them.
3.4The front of a queue or procession: at the head of the queue
More example sentences
  • Many pitched tents more than a fortnight ago to make sure they were at the head of the queue when the homes come on sale tomorrow morning.
  • A picture shows the developers on horseback at the head of the parade.
  • As Ella and George watch the rest of the march, the kids sneak down the alleyways and rejoin the head of the procession.
3.5The top of a page.
More example sentences
  • For some time I tried to find an wise or witty one to insert at the head of my home page.
  • He would start reading at the head of a page then his head would move downward in a straight line until he got to the foot of the page.
  • At 115, at the head of the page, your Honours will see, at line 4, his Honour reads out the questions which had been written by the jury.
3.6 short for headline.
More example sentences
  • The front section of each issue has brief pieces, about research and about the political and social setting of science, and these often have punchy heads.
3.7The top of a flight of stairs or steps.
More example sentences
  • The best entrance to the hotel ballroom, a double door at the head of a short flight of steps, was strictly forbidden.
  • He left me at the head of a flight of stairs leading to the basement.
  • He quickly climbed up the steps and left it coiled in a heap at the head of the stairs.
3.8The foam on top of a glass of beer, or the cream on the top of milk.
More example sentences
  • It's an almost black beer with a creamy head, giving a subtle roasted coffee aroma.
  • We look at how we can extend the shelf life of beer and at improving foam - people equate freshness with a nice head of foam.
  • The purpose of a proper glass is to concentrate the aroma and allow a full head of foam to develop.
Synonyms
3.9The source of a river or stream.
More example sentences
  • The river head is the source not only of the property's water, but also of its joie de vivre.
  • With his wife and child, he had ridden seventy-five miles up the valley to meet the Mormon party near the head of Lemhi River.
  • In 1754, Virginia dispatched an army under Lieutenant Colonel George Washington to construct a fort at the head of the Ohio River.
Synonyms
3.10The end of a lake or inlet at which a river enters.
More example sentences
  • Leaving the head of Lake Wanaka the road then runs through an open valley to Makarora.
  • St Petersburg is located on the delta of the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland.
  • Another age had passed when she saw a man sitting upon a rock at the head of the inlet.
3.11 [usually in place names] A promontory: Beachy Head
More example sentences
  • The print was Thea Schrack's ‘Yaquina Head Lighthouse.’
  • Baynham has farmed for all of his 70 years at Penlen farm on St David's Head.
  • The images include four lighthouses in Maine - Bass Harbor Head Light, Cape Neddick Light, Pemaquid Point Light, and Portland Head Light.
3.12The top of a ship’s mast.
More example sentences
  • In an effort to overcome this a forward-looking wind transducer is mounted at the head of the mast.
3.13The bows of a ship.
More example sentences
  • As the <i>Grosvenor</i> sliced towards the rocks at six knots, the officer of the watch dismissed reports of shore fires beyond the ship's head.
  • There was no way the captain could keep the ship's head up into the seas.
3.14 short for cylinder head.
More example sentences
  • The mammoth engine's double overhead camshaft heads and 64 valves are fed by a quartet of turbochargers.
  • Fix Auto Body of Ontario did the bodywork and paint and Precision Cylinder Heads modified the heads.
  • The remaining 40 percent of content, including cylinder blocks and heads, is made in-house.
4A person in charge of something; a director or leader: the head of the Dutch Catholic Church
More example sentences
  • Their findings are released today on the eve of the Thessaloniki summit of heads of EU political leaders that will decide the future framework of the community.
  • The next highest paid director was the head of its US aggregates business Tom Hill.
  • On the other hand, these same leaders are often the heads of militias and these militias are being used to assassinate political opponents.
Synonyms
leader, chief, boss, controller, master, supervisor, governor, superintendent, foreman, forewoman, headman; commander, commanding officer, captain; director, managing director, chief executive, manager; principal, head teacher, headmaster, headmistress; president, premier, prime minister, ruler; chair, chairman, chairwoman, chairperson; North Americanchief executive officer, CEO
informal boss man, kingpin, top dog, big cheese, bigwig, Mr Big, skipper
British informal gaffer, guv'nor
North American informal numero uno, head honcho, padrone, sachem, big white chief, big kahuna, big wheel, high muckamuck
4.1British short for headmaster, headmistress, or head teacher.
More example sentences
  • The National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers say heads must find money to implement the accord.
  • The second related to a new duty placed on all teachers to assist school heads in assessing whether their colleagues merited receiving the award.
  • The numbers of teachers and heads choosing to retire early from primary schools has risen by 40 per cent since 2002.
5A person considered as a numerical unit: they paid fifty pounds a head
More example sentences
  • If the owner only gets a handful of visits a year it effectively costs the taxpayer thousands of pounds a head.
  • For a pound a head and three cups of tea each what better value could we find?
  • Typically a two-course meal complete with a couple of drinks will cost only about three pounds fifty per head!
5.1 [treated as plural] A number of cattle or game as specified: seventy head of dairy cattle
More example sentences
  • The farming family also have around 20 head of cattle and 400 sheep on their land.
  • Thousands of lives and thousands of head of cattle are lost every year due to floods.
  • Slosh Farm at Appleby is run by Robert Baxter and has 180 head of beef cattle and 150 head of sheep.
6A component in an audio, video, or information system by which information is transferred from an electrical signal to the recording medium, or vice versa.
More example sentences
  • This thin data storage device has a flexible recordable disk and recording heads arranged on both sides of the disk.
  • The main drive contains the drive electronics and heads.
  • They are used for quality control in manufacturing digital recording heads as well as in the construction of compact audio disk stampers.
6.1The part of a record player that holds the playing cartridge and stylus.
6.2 short for printhead.
7A body of water kept at a particular height in order to provide a supply at sufficient pressure: an 8 m head of water in the shafts
More example sentences
  • The scheme will not require a dam but rather a wall that provides a constant head of water and which will be designed to utilise the flow of the river.
  • The seawater stream into which the combustion gas is injected is under pressure via the head of water exerted by the seawater reservoir.
  • The half weir was constructed to keep a good head of water in the river between Richmond and the end of the tidal flow at Teddington weir.
7.1The pressure exerted by a head of water or by a confined body of steam: a good head of steam on the gauge
More example sentences
  • The high pitched noise of the steam engines and their strong heads of steam are to dominate the afternoon.
  • We made sure that there was plenty of coal out at the boiler fronts and a good head of steam to start them off.
8 Nautical A toilet on a ship or boat: they were cleaning out the heads
More example sentences
  • Although the sea washed the heads clean as the ship pitched, the heads still needed a regular scrub-down with a broom.
  • It was posted in some of the heads on the ship the day before the plane went down.
  • To the port side aft is the head and shower and a quarter berth cabin with large double berth.
9 Grammar The word that governs all the other words in a phrase in which it is used, having the same grammatical function as the whole phrase.
More example sentences
  • In many grammatical theories, the head of a phrase is defined as that constituent which determines the syntactic category of the phrase.
  • All of these examples involve head nouns with an indefinite article.
  • Recall that a verb governs an object, and the head of a phrase governs the complement.
10 [mass noun] Geology A superficial deposit of rock fragments, formed at the edge of an ice sheet by repeated freezing and thawing and then moved downhill.
More example sentences
  • Larger-scale climatic changes or tectonic changes in the hinterland produce relative changes in the main agents of deposition and entrenchment of the upper fan (the fan head).
  • The rock and soil debris may even move on very shallow slopes, resulting in a large accumulation of head at the valley bottom.

adjective

[attributive] Back to top  
Chief; principal: the head waiter
More example sentences
  • The head waiter gave parties every night in the kitchens, at which he and his local friends drank the cellars out.
  • At dinner that night, I only had to reach for the wine bottle when the head waiter raced across to pour it for me.
  • If you don't like the table you have been assigned in the restaurant, talk to the head waiter.
Synonyms
chief, principal, leading, main, first, front, prime, premier, foremost, top, topmost, highest, supreme, pre-eminent, high-ranking, top-ranking, most important; North Americanranking
informal top-notch

verb

[with object] Back to top  
1Be in the leading position on: the St George’s Day procession was headed by the mayor
More example sentences
  • With white and purple-robed priests heading the procession, the coffin was carried into the church.
  • Five police cars headed the march.
  • Sean Lamont heads a quintet of wing specialists who are vying for position in the Stade de France showdown.
Synonyms
be at the front of, lead, be the leader of, be at the head of; be first, go first, lead the way
1.1Be in charge of: an organizational unit headed by a line manager she headed up the Jubilee Year programme
More example sentences
  • The man who heads the company charged with regenerating Swindon's town centre is leaving after only two years in the job.
  • In the late 1990s he was, briefly, charged with heading a newly established repatriation service.
  • A monitoring unit, headed by Martinez's son, Hugo, pinpointed the area where the call was coming from.
Synonyms
be in charge of, be at the head of, be in command of, command, be in control of, control, lead, be the leader of, run, manage, direct, administer, supervise, superintend, oversee, preside over, rule, govern, captain, be the boss of, be at the helm of
2Give a title or caption to: an article headed ‘The Protection of Human Life’
More example sentences
  • She has an obvious reverence for the music; most of the book's chapters are headed by famous song titles.
  • He heads his article by saying that havens for wild life don't need buffer zones.
  • His article is headed The BBC has done the country a favour.
2.1 (as adjective headed) Having a printed heading, typically the name and address of a person or organization: headed notepaper
More example sentences
  • Brenda, 65, said the letter was laser-printed on quality, headed paper with their names on the envelope, and seemed genuine.
  • They will see a new employers' name on their payslips and a new name on headed notepaper and signage around buildings.
  • Notices sent in the post by the agencies often used threatening language and were printed on headed note - paper.
3 [no object, with adverbial of direction] (also be headed) Move in a specified direction: he was heading for the exit we were headed in the wrong direction
More example sentences
  • She also waters each plant thoroughly every Sunday afternoon before she heads home.
  • I yell goodbye to my dad as he heads out the door for work.
  • He heads upstairs to the weight room for strength training.
Synonyms
move towards, go towards, make for, aim for, make one's way towards, go in the direction of, direct one's steps towards, be bound for, steer for, make a beeline for; set out in the direction of, set out for, start out for
3.1 (head for) Appear to be moving inevitably towards (something, especially something undesirable): the economy is heading for recession
More example sentences
  • However, the British schemes for air marshals appear to be heading for difficulties.
  • With 47 required off the last six overs, the match appeared to be heading for a draw.
  • The game appeared to be heading for a goalless draw until Coniston struck twice within a minute.
3.2 [with object and adverbial of direction] Direct or steer in a specified direction: she headed the car towards them
More example sentences
  • The sheep halted, and at the whistle the dog proceeded with short flanking runs which headed them into the gap.
  • Stallone heads his car towards him, so he jumps into the river.
  • Head them towards the Washington area.
4 Soccer Shoot or pass (the ball) with the head: a corner kick that Moody headed into the net
More example sentences
  • The Czechs attack again, with Karel Poborsky heading a long ball back across the face of goal from the far post.
  • Duff attacks down the left wing, but his ball is headed away by Sulimani.
  • Finnan loops a cross into the box, and Keane heads the ball down into Duff's path.
5Lop off the upper part or branches of (a plant or tree): the willow is headed every three or four years
More example sentences
  • The trunks of some trees have been headed which causes several branches to grow from just below the cut.
6 [no object] (Of a lettuce or cabbage) form a head.
More example sentences
  • Under very cool conditions, as in an unheated solar greenhouse or a polyethylene tunnel, any Asian heading cabbage will grow more loose and open.
  • Of the handful of komatsunas available, some are crosses of komatsuna with heading brassicas, either napa types or bok choy.

Origin

Old English hēafod, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hoofd and German Haupt.

Phrases

bang (or knock) people's heads together

Reprimand people severely, especially in an attempt to stop them arguing.
More example sentences
  • This lying, prevarication and knocking people's heads together is standard practice.
  • I just think it's fun to knock people's heads together and call attention to how silly arguing over NOTHING can be.
  • We were inches away and if he had not taken that initiative - something John is very good at - of knocking people's heads together and forcing them to come to an agreement to settle matters or to say ‘we cannot make an agreement’, that would not have been done.

be banging (or knocking) one's head against a brick wall

Be doggedly attempting the impossible and suffering in the process: the trick is to go for the easy stuff first, there’s nothing to be gained from knocking your head against a brick wall
More example sentences
  • You felt you were banging your head against a brick wall.
  • Often he felt as if he was banging his head against a brick wall.
  • I've been knocking my head against a brick wall for so long.

be hanging over someone's head

(Of something unpleasant) threaten to affect someone at any moment: uncertainty about the group’s future was hanging over their heads
More example sentences
  • They wanted to provide a better world for everyone that was over there, and they certainly don't deserve a fate that is hanging over their head.
  • Add to this year's mix the fact that I'm supposed to complete a novel this month, my favorite boss is running for a position in a different court, this school program that is hanging over my head and you have a recipe for a nervous breakdown.
  • This is the noise I am making as I finish, print out and collate a pack of 7 essays that have been hanging over my head for ages and ages, ready to hand in as the last act before the holidays.

be heading for a fall

see fall.

be in over one's head

informal Be involved in something that is beyond one’s capacity to deal with: when I became a graduate student I knew at once I was in over my head
More example sentences
  • How do you decide when you are in over your head in a work-related situation?
  • I began with the tutorial missions and realized I was definitely in over my head.
  • The overwhelming impression I get from Firewarrior is that of being constantly in over my head.

be on someone's (own) head

Be someone’s sole responsibility: your conduct is on your own head
More example sentences
  • If I suddenly become fit and healthy, it's going to be on her head, let me tell you.
  • Either way, whatever happened to him now was on her head.
  • Very well, everything that happens here after is on your head… love.

bite (or snap) someone's head off

Reply sharply and brusquely to someone: I made some comment and he bit my head off
More example sentences
  • ‘You too, Dave,’ she replied hesitantly, as if she expected Jill to bite her head off.
  • ‘Yeah the guy bit my head off for it,’ he replied, shrugging his shoulders.
  • I had so much I wanted to say to her, and it was all I could do to avoid biting her head off when she passed a remark about how long it's been since Bro rang her.

by the head

Nautical (Of a boat or ship) deeper in the water forward than astern: the Boy Andrew went down by the head
More example sentences
  • Captain Smith ordered the Marconi operators to send out a distress call that the ship was sinking by the head.

come to a head

Reach a crisis: the violence came to a head with the deaths of six youths
More example sentences
  • That situation came to a head and reached a crisis point in August of that year.
  • This crisis may have come to a head with the collapse of the socialist camp but its origins lie in the emergence of a modern capitalist order capable of accommodating itself rapidly to changes in the forces of production.
  • The extent of the funding crisis came to a head when school budgets finalised in March were not enough to cover rising costs in the new financial year.
Synonyms
reach a crisis, come to a climax, reach a critical point, reach a turning point, reach a crossroads
informal come to the crunch

do someone's head in

British informal Make someone feel annoyed, confused, or frustrated: my relationship with my publicist was doing my head in
More example sentences
  • Probably what does the manager's head in is that we are not doing that - one week we are up and then next week we are down.

from head to toe (or foot)

All over one’s body: I was shaking from head to toe
More example sentences
  • We checked his body from head to toe, got him ready for the paramedics and then I took off and left.
  • When my friend went in to see the doctor, her body was swollen from head to toe.
  • Close your eyes, take a breath, exhale slowly, and scan your body from head to toe.

get one's head down

British informal
1Sleep: if he got his head down for a couple of hours he would be nice and fresh for the evening
More example sentences
  • I was living on the streets, eating out of skips, sleeping in cars, anywhere I could get my head down and sleep.
  • So I arose early yesterday morning, groggy as you like after about 4 hours of sleep having been unable to get my head down.
  • Possibly the most sensible option is to get my head down and sleep, but don't feel like sleeping.
2Concentrate on the task in hand: at home I can get my head down and get on with the job in hand
More example sentences
  • Obviously I've not played at this level before so I had to get my head down and concentrate and I thought it went quite well to be fair.
  • They were the sorts of schools where, if you got your head down, you could do quite well.
  • I've always been the kind of person who just got their head down and just did my work and hopefully people saw what I was like through my work.

get one's head round (or around)

[usually with negative] British informal Understand or come to terms with: I just can’t get my head around this idea
More example sentences
  • Doubtless it takes time to get your head around the understated complexities of Japanese food.
  • Obviously you're only going to be able to get your head around this stuff in terms of Jungian pop psychology, because that sounds like an intellectually plausible frame of reference, and its the only one you have for it.
  • When I've got my head around how it's going, I'll write something about how it's working, too.

get something into one's (or someone's) head

Come (or cause someone) to realize or understand something: when will you get it into your head that it’s the project that counts not me?
More example sentences
  • I understand that Jimmy, like you, cannot get it into his head that she doesn't want to be with him anymore.
  • I was in secondary school and I somehow got it into my head that because I was good at sciences (especially physics) I should become an engineer.
  • We have a pretty simple uniform while we're cooking or serving, but I got it into my head that it would be cool to have team aprons - I came up with this design.

give someone their head

Allow someone complete freedom of action.
More example sentences
  • For the opening sequence of this piece, he stands apart in a corner to give them their head, in swathes of darting, scything movement, bewitching articulation, surging bursts of speedy turns and airy flights.
  • Andy - he - you give - there are certain guys, you give them their head.
  • However, when Bowman does give them their head, the dragons are both physically intimidating and stunningly effective.

give someone head

vulgar slang Perform oral sex on someone.

go to someone's head

(Of alcohol) make someone dizzy or slightly drunk.
More example sentences
  • Lily began feeling the alcohol go to her head after her 6th drink, and she almost passed out.
  • I supposed that the large consumption of alcohol the night before had gone to his head.
  • I had two drinks that just went to my head, because I hadn't eaten.
Synonyms
intoxicate, inebriate, befuddle, make someone intoxicated, make someone drunk, make someone dizzy, make someone's head spin
informal make someone woozy
(Of success) make someone conceited.
More example sentences
  • And it is because of his home town, admits this designer modestly, that success has not gone to his head.
  • Then I won a prize in the talent show and it all went to my head.
  • Something about being first in the procession went to my head instead.

hang one's head (in shame)

Be deeply ashamed: a record that should make them hang their heads in shame
More example sentences
  • Jonathon nodded, hanging his head like an ashamed child.
  • Instead, I placed my elbows on the counter and hung my head, sighing deeply.
  • I hung my head in shame and bought three extra sessions with the personal trainer immediately.

head first

With the head in front of the rest of the body: she dived head first into the water a head-first slide
More example sentences
  • If there had been a hole in front of her, Diana would have gladly dived in head first and dragged Jack in behind her.
  • The day goes on, with Dax getting sunburned, Dude wiping out onto the beach head first, and the rest of the group having its general fun in the sun.
  • She raised her hands in the air and cart wheeled head first before twisting her body end over end in backflip after backflip.
Synonyms
head foremost, headlong, on one's head; diving
Without sufficient forethought.
More example sentences
  • So come year 7 and I jumped head first into a new environment, new school, new uniform, and no girls.
  • Directors accept challenges, take authority, and go head first into solving problems.
  • If my future profession could involve such pleasurable antics I would jump in head first.
Synonyms
without thinking, without forethought, precipitately, precipitously, impetuously, rashly, recklessly, carelessly, heedlessly, hastily, in haste, head over heels, headlong

head of hair

The hair on a person’s head, regarded in terms of its appearance or quantity: he had a fine head of hair
More example sentences
  • She remembers him, with his fine head of hair, forever working.
  • All I've gotten for it is a very annoying head of hair and a growing loss of hair.
  • It seems obvious to say false - not because the present king of France has a fine head of hair, but because he does not exist.

head and shoulders above

informal Far superior to: you were just head and shoulders above all the other girls
More example sentences
  • Several pupils stood head and shoulders above all other applicants, getting one of the top five marks in individual subjects.
  • In fact, the entire relationship has a very odd, pragmatic air to it that makes this stand head and shoulders above most of the rest of the field.
  • There they stand, head and shoulders above all others, some aggressive and pushy, others large and showy.
Synonyms
outclass, surpass, be superior to, be better than, outshine, overshadow, eclipse, dwarf, put in the shade, upstage, transcend; top, cap, trump, trounce, beat, defeat, better, put to shame, exceed, leave behind, outrank
informal be a cut above, run rings round, leave standing, walk away from
archaic outrival, outvie

—— one's head off

Talk, laugh, etc. unrestrainedly: he was drunk as a newt and singing his head off
More example sentences
  • But if you are from England, you are probably laughing your head off, as that topped the regional results back then.
  • As soon as the curtains go up you will be laughing your head off.
  • Mostly, his blackly comic writing will make you laugh your head off, but it can also rip your heart out.

head over heels

1Turning over completely in forward motion, as in a somersault: he fell backwards, tumbling head over heels down the steps
More example sentences
  • The powerful forearms and shoulders collapsed in full stride sending the lion nose first into the dirt, hind end vaulting upward as the cat tumbled head over heels, its forward momentum carrying it almost to my feet.
  • Monkey jumped out of the way so quickly that he lost his balance and went tumbling, head over heels, into the brush, the dog in yelping pursuit.
  • As per usual, he tumbled and flipped head over heels in a posing routine that brought the house - and the lights - down one more time.
2 (also head over heels in love) Madly in love: I immediately fell head over heels for Don
More example sentences
  • We were emailing, phoning or writing daily, sending each other love songs, head over heels in love and planning our future, both feeling totally alive for the first time in years.
  • I realized that I not only loved him, but I was head over heels in love with him.
  • I fell head over heels in love with a wonderful man who I truthfully still love.

a head start

An advantage granted or gained at the beginning of something: our fine traditions give us a head start on the competition
More example sentences
  • If you were fleeing tyranny, you would bring everything that could possibly give you a head start in the new society.
  • And I got into the office early this morning so as to get a head start.
  • Given the amount of travel I have coming up, I don't need a head start on getting sick.

heads I win, tails you lose

I win whatever happens.
More example sentences
  • Lower interest rates, higher interest rates - they're all the same to Roach who has adopted the stance ‘heads I win, tails you lose’.
  • Of course, this ignores the ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ aspect: executives get a share of investors' gains if things go well, but don't share the losses if things go badly.
  • Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this just another way of saying, we'll flip a coin, and heads I win, tails you lose?

heads will roll

People will be dismissed or forced to resign: heads will have to roll at board level
More example sentences
  • I will be instigating some enquiries and some heads will roll.
  • I imagine heads will roll (but hopefully only figuratively).
  • And heads will roll for giving me wrong information.

hold (or put) a gun to someone's head

Force someone to do something by using threats.
More example sentences
  • Now, if one were to believe everything they read, it would seem that I held a gun to his head and force fed him the Mandarin and soda with a splash of OJ.
  • No-one puts a gun to your head and forces you to take that demeaning and last-resort job of Senator.
  • Fourth, nobody holds a gun to a man's head and forces him to be a priest.

hold up one's head (or hold one's head high)

Be confident or unashamed: under the circumstances I would find it impossible to hold my head up in the town
More example sentences
  • He told me to hold my head high and look confident.
  • You might not get to the top as quick as everyone who's treading on other people's fingers, but at least you'll be able to hold your head high and say ‘I got here by myself’.
  • While I have tried in public to stay dignified, to hold up my head and to carry on with my job… in private I have been deeply upset and hurt and considerable damage has been inflicted on my personal life.

in one's head

By mental process without use of physical aids: the piece he’d already written in his head
More example sentences
  • I was busy writing all about it in my head, when reality stabbed me in the stomach.
  • It fascinates me that a composer must hear music in their head and then write it in a foreign language before it is actually played.
  • On the way home I was writing this review in my head, before listening to the album.

keep one's head

Remain calm: he takes chances but keeps his head
More example sentences
  • But I found the best advice was to keep your head and to stay calm even when all this excitement is happening around you.
  • Fortunately, Damien kept his calm, allowing Richard to keep his head.
  • I knew there was more in our fellows, every player kept his head, and I was delighted at the positive way we regained the initiative.
Synonyms
keep/stay calm, keep/stay cool, remain unruffled, keep control of oneself, keep one's self-control, maintain one's equilibrium, maintain one's composure
informal keep one's cool, keep one's shirt on

keep one's head above water

Avoid succumbing to difficulties, typically debt.
More example sentences
  • We have managed to keep our head above water in the last 24 months despite increasingly difficult market conditions.
  • Nearly every week there's something else; you find you're constantly in debt and always borrowing to keep your head above water.
  • Lots of things were going through my head, and I wasn't speaking to anyone, and then when the manager came up and said that, it keeps your head above water, and gives you a wee bit of extra determination.

keep one's head down

Remain inconspicuous in difficult or dangerous times: he was in deep trouble and all his instincts told him to keep his head down
More example sentences
  • It is difficult but you've just got to keep your head down, work hard and hope that things come right.
  • You kept your head down and you never challenged your political betters.
  • You kept your head down, did your work and made sure you were ready for when the call came.

lose one's head

Lose self-control; panic.
More example sentences
  • He doesn't panic or lose his head under pressure.
  • Maura must have panicked and completely lost her head, because I know I hadn't taught her to break like that.
  • There were a couple of speakers, no-one lost their head over the issue.
Synonyms
lose control of oneself, lose one's composure, lose one's self-control, lose one's equilibrium, lose control of the situation, go to pieces, fall to pieces; panic, go mad, get flustered, get confused, get angry, get excited, get hysterical
British informal go into a (flat) spin, throw a wobbly

make head or tail of

[usually with negative] Understand at all: we couldn’t make head nor tail of the answer
More example sentences
  • We still cannot make head or tail of what happened.
  • Anyway, I couldn't make head or tail of what he was saying.
  • She couldn't make head or tail of what she was being told and thought it a nightmare.

off (or out of) one's head

British informal
Crazy: my old man’s going off his head, you know
More example sentences
  • I've never been one for going off my head at refs.
  • Anway, Sonny has taken on the mantle of being a ginger cat in every sense of the word: he's a bloody off his head, mental, homicidal-psycho-jungle-cat.
  • I went off my head and used crack cocaine; it was intense, I was doing things that I never thought I could do, robbing people because drugs had a hold on me.
Extremely intoxicated by drink or drugs.
More example sentences
  • When I like a record, it's not because I'm out of my head or drunk on anything.
  • Of course he didn't remember he was drunk out of his head, which was the only reason anything happened between them.
  • Still, I'm finding that not being whacked off my head on drugs all the time, or thinking about my next score of drugs, that I can cope with the little ups and downs a lot better.

off the top of one's head

Without careful thought or investigation: I can’t tell you off the top of my head
More example sentences
  • He gives a very polished, professional performance with excellent comic timing to make the jokes appear impromptu and off the top of his head.
  • One little girl, only seven years of age, stood at the top of the classroom one day and told a story off the top of her head, capturing the attention of the entire class for twenty minutes.
  • I thought you just remembered it off the top of your head.

over someone's head

1Beyond someone’s ability to understand: the discussion was over my head
More example sentences
  • So I figure its best to humour her, maths is not my strongest point and I try to ignore anything that has to do with numbers and indeed most of it goes over my head as I do not understand.
  • It went mostly over his head when it happened but he'll start to understand this chapter.
  • While some of the legal details sailed over my head, there were interesting discussions about technology and implementation issues.
2Without someone’s knowledge or involvement, especially when they have a right to it: the deal was struck over the heads of the regions concerned
More example sentences
  • There was this big discussion going on over my head.
2.1With disregard for someone else’s (stronger) claim: his promotion over the heads of more senior colleagues
More example sentences
  • And I just said to him, Well I'm very sorry but we don't feel that you are, and that is why we went over your head, and we would still like to see Mr O'Neill, please.

put their (or our or your) heads together

Consult and work together: they forced the major banks to put their heads together to sort it out
More example sentences
  • It is really a matter of people getting together and putting their heads together and coming up with ways to do this - it truly starts in the community.
  • We have put our heads together to discuss how to move our plans forward.
  • If the community put their heads together and intervened, the problem of street kids would be a thing of the past.

put something into someone's head

Suggest something to someone: who’s been putting ideas into your head?
More example sentences
  • On the other hand no one can conceive of a black mayor until the hero recognises the young black man cleaning in a restaurant as the future mayor and puts the idea into his head.
  • It was probably he who put the idea into my head that an ordinary man could leave something for the future.
  • The only reason why you might want to rebel against your culture was because you had been got at by some western liberals who've put these different ideas into your head.

standing on one's head

With no difficulty at all: I could design this garden standing on my head
More example sentences
  • I read the script and thought I could do the character standing on my head.
  • I applied for the post and I remember that, on the phone, I said that I could provide no paperwork to prove my qualifications but that I could do the job standing on my head.
  • ‘I played a part in it which I could do standing on my head but it is still a small part in a big film,’ he recalls.

stand (or turn) something on its head

Completely reverse the principles or interpretation of an idea or argument: a book that turns the accepted view of modernism on its head punk had turned pop music and its attendant culture in its head
More example sentences
  • This novel bravely turns that idea on its head, and in doing so reinvigorates our perceptions of the North American continent.
  • In turning this idea on its head - protagonist escapes prison unchanged - the thrilling element of this trilogy turns out to be a lesson in the necessity for change and how quickly life's certainties can disappear.
  • We would turn that argument on its head and say that, to a small firm reliant on trade that has been built up probably over a number of years, the impact of the riots was costly and disruptive to their business.

take it into one's head to do something

Impetuously decide to do something: I wonder why he suddenly took it into his head to confess to you
More example sentences
  • Why, when two men in medieval times chanced to to be standing next to each other, did one of them suddenly take it into his head to do this thing, and why was the other one happy to acquiesce?
  • No one, after all, wanted to get too friendly with a gigantic barbarian who might suddenly take it into his head to chop one into teeny, tiny pieces for no particular reason.
  • I took it into my head to write a formal sonnet in classical form, and have been sweating over it all day, breaking off now and again to have a good curse at the obstinacy that words exhibit when you try to herd them into a prescribed form.

turn someone's head

Make someone conceited: being made dean had turned his head
More example sentences
  • The success of the movie isn't turning his head, but it's making him more aware of social realities.
  • Wendy believes all the adulation turned Peter 's head, sowing the seeds of overweening self-esteem.

turn heads

Attract a great deal of attention or interest: she recently turned heads with a nude scene
More example sentences
  • There is something about leather that turns heads and catches attention.
  • The unusual gathering attracted attention from the shoppers and turned heads and some of the passers by had a go at drawing.
  • Your attractiveness is turning heads all over the place.

Phrasal verbs

head someone/thing off

Intercept and turn aside: he ran up the road to head off approaching cars
More example sentences
  • Jared goes after them instantly, running along the edge of the field to head them off and catch them by surprise.
  • He spied David making his way towards the car lot, a bottle in his hand, and moved to head him off, catching up with him just outside the exit.
  • Some people swung their cars round and tried to head him off at the other side of the playing fields.
Synonyms
intercept, divert, deflect, redirect, reroute, turn aside, draw away, turn away, cut off
Forestall: they headed off a row by ordering further study of both plans
More example sentences
  • They recognize emergency situations before they become critical and head them off with appropriate countermeasures.
  • It can head them off entirely by preventing or fixing problems before they arise.
  • We now try to deal with animal health on a preventative basis, anticipating problems and heading them off.
Synonyms

head up

Sailing Steer towards the wind.
More example sentences
  • Any sideways thrust exerted on the forward part of a yacht will encourage her to turn away from it, while any effort exerted aft will induce her to head up.

Derivatives

headed

adjective
[in combination]: bald-headed men woolly-headed thinking

headless

adjective
More example sentences
  • Plus there was the puzzle of the headless man's identity.
  • Two headless bodies were subsequently found north of the capital.
  • The ashes are all that is left and the body has been reduced so that the ghostly figure looks both handless and headless.

More definitions of head

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Word of the day semblance
Pronunciation: ˈsɛmbləns
noun
the outward appearance or apparent form of something…