n., adj., & v.
n. 1 the upper part of the human body, or the foremost or upper part of an animal's body, containing the brain, mouth, and sense-organs. 2 a the head regarded as the seat of intellect or repository of comprehended information. b intelligence; imagination (use your head). c mental aptitude or tolerance (usu. foll. by for: a good head for business; no head for heights). 3 colloq. a headache, esp. resulting from a blow or from intoxication. 4 a thing like a head in form or position, esp.: a the operative part of a tool. b the flattened top of a nail. c the ornamented top of a pillar. d a mass of leaves or flowers at the top of a stem. e the flat end of a drum. f the foam on top of a glass of beer etc. g the upper horizontal part of a window frame, door frame, etc. 5 life when regarded as vulnerable (it cost him his head). 6 a a person in charge; a director or leader (esp. the principal teacher at a school or college). b a position of leadership or command. 7 the front or forward part of something, e.g. a queue. 8 the upper end of something, e.g. a table or bed. 9 the top or highest part of something, e.g. a page, stairs, etc. 10 a person or individual regarded as a numerical unit ($10 per head). 11 (pl. same) a an individual animal as a unit. b (as pl.) a number of cattle or game as specified (20 head). 12 a the side of a coin bearing the image of a head. b (usu. in pl.) this side as a choice when tossing a coin. 13 a the source of a river or stream etc. b the end of a lake at which a river enters it. 14 the height or length of a head as a measure. 15 the component of a machine that is in contact with or very close to what is being processed or worked on, esp.: a the component on a tape recorder that touches the moving tape in play and converts the signals. b the part of a record-player that holds the playing cartridge and stylus. c = PRINTHEAD. 16 a a confined body of water or steam in an engine etc. b the pressure exerted by this. 17 a promontory (esp. in place-names) (Beachy Head). 18 Naut. a the bows of a ship. b (often in pl.) a ship's latrine. 19 a main topic or category for consideration or discussion. 20 Journalism = HEADLINE n. 21 a culmination, climax, or crisis. 22 the fully developed top of a boil etc. 23 sl. a habitual taker of drugs; a drug addict.
attrib.adj. chief or principal (head gardener; head office).
v. 1 tr. be at the head or front of. 2 tr. be in charge of (headed a small team). 3 tr. a provide with a head or heading. b (of an inscription, title, etc.) be at the top of, serve as a heading for. 4 a intr. face or move in a specified direction or towards a specified result (often foll. by for: is heading for trouble). b tr. direct in a specified direction. 5 tr. Football strike (the ball) with the head. 6 a tr. (often foll. by down) cut the head off (a plant etc.). b intr. (of a plant etc.) form a head. above (or over) one's head beyond one's ability to understand. come to a head reach a crisis. enter (or come into) one's head colloq. occur to one. from head to toe (or foot) all over a person's body. get one's head down sl. 1 go to bed. 2 concentrate on the task in hand. give a person his or her head allow a person to act freely. go out of one's head go mad. go to one's head 1 (of liquor) make one dizzy or slightly drunk. 2 (of success) make one conceited. head and shoulders colloq. by a considerable amount. head back 1 get ahead of so as to intercept and turn back. 2 return home etc. head-banger sl. 1 a young person shaking violently to the rhythm of pop music. 2 a crazy or eccentric person. head-butt n. a forceful thrust with the top of the head into the chin or body of another person.
v.tr. attack (another person) with a head-butt. head-dress an ornamental covering or band for the head. head first 1 with the head foremost. 2 precipitately. head in the sand refusal to acknowledge an obvious danger or difficulty. head off 1 get ahead of so as to intercept and turn aside. 2 forestall. a head of hair the hair on a person's head, esp. as a distinctive feature. head-on 1 with the front foremost (a head-on crash). 2 in direct confrontation. head over heels 1 turning over completely in forward motion as in a somersault etc. 2 topsy-turvy. 3 utterly, completely (head over heels in love). head-shrinker sl. a psychiatrist. head start an advantage granted or gained at an early stage. heads will roll colloq. people will be disgraced or dismissed. head-up (of instrument readings in an aircraft, vehicle, etc.) shown so as to be visible without lowering the eyes. head-voice the high register of the voice in speaking or singing. head wind a wind blowing from directly in front. hold up one's head be confident or unashamed. in one's head 1 in one's thoughts or imagination. 2 by mental process without use of physical aids. keep one's head remain calm. keep one's head above water colloq. 1 keep out of debt. 2 avoid succumbing to difficulties. keep one's head down colloq. remain inconspicuous in difficult or dangerous times. lose one's head lose self-control; panic. make head or tail of (usu. with neg. or interrog.) understand at all. off one's head sl. crazy. off the top of one's head colloq. impromptu; without careful thought or investigation. on one's (or one's own) head as one's sole responsibility. out of one's head 1 sl. crazy. 2 from one's imagination or memory. over one's head 1 beyond one's ability to understand. 2 without one's knowledge or involvement, esp. when one has a right to this. 3 with disregard for one's own (stronger) claim (was promoted over their heads). put heads together consult together. put into a person's head suggest to a person. take (or get) it into one's head (foll. by that + clause or to + infin.) form a definite idea or plan. turn a person's head make a person conceited. with one's head in the clouds see CLOUD. headed adj. (also in comb.). headless adj. headward adj. & adv.
[ OE heafod f. Gmc ]