Meaning of HEAD in English

I. head 1 S1 W1 /hed/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ head , ↑ heading , ↑ overhead , ↑ header , ↑ headship ; adjective : ↑ overhead , ↑ heady , ↑ headless , ↑ headed ; verb : ↑ head , ↑ behead ; adverb : ↑ overhead ]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: heafod ]

1 . TOP OF BODY [countable] the top part of your body that has your face at the front and is supported by your neck:

He kissed the top of her head.

Alan fell asleep as soon as he put his head on the pillow.

They dived head first into the water.

She was dressed in black from head to toe (=over all her body) .

He still has a full head of hair (=has all his hair, even though he is getting rather old) .

2 . MIND [countable] your mind or mental ability:

The problem only exists inside his head.

do something in your head (=calculate something mentally)

I can’t do those figures in my head.

Use your head to work out the answer.

come into/pop into your head

Jackie said the first thing that came into her head.

get something into your head (=understand something)

‘It’s over, Jake,’ she said. ‘Try and get that into your head.’

take/get it into your head (to do something) (=decide to do something, especially something stupid)

At about two in the morning, Alan took it into his head to go for a swim.

get/put something out of your head (=stop thinking or worrying about something)

Try to put it out of your head for the time being.

put something into sb’s head (=make someone think or believe something)

What’s put that idea into her head?

get your head round something British English (=be able to understand something)

I just can’t get my head round what’s been going on here.


a) keep your head to remain calm and sensible in a difficult or frightening situation:

We need a candidate who can keep his or her head even when clients get aggressive.

keep a clear/cool/calm head

Get to sleep early tonight – you’ll need to keep a clear head tomorrow at the trial.

b) lose your head to become unable to behave calmly or sensibly in a difficult or frightening situation:

You’ll be OK as long as you don’t lose your head and forget he’s the real enemy.

c) have your head screwed on (straight/right) informal to be sensible and able to deal with difficult situations:

He wondered what Gemma thought about it all. She seemed to have her head screwed on.

4 . PERSON IN CHARGE [countable]

a) a leader or person in charge of a group or organization

head of

You should discuss the matter with your head of department.

A meeting of Commonwealth heads of state will be held next month.

head waiter/chef/gardener etc (=the person in charge of a group of waiters etc)

b) ( also head teacher ) British English the person in charge of a school SYN principal American English :

From now on all violent incidents should be reported directly to the head.

⇨ ↑ crowned head , ↑ head boy , ↑ head girl , ↑ headmaster , ↑ headmistress

5 . FRONT/LEADING POSITION [singular] the front or the most important position

(at) the head of something

Jenny marched proudly at the head of the procession.

At the head of the table (=the place where the most important person sits) sat the senior partners.

at sth’s/sb’s head

The band of soldiers marched into the yard, their defeated captain at their head.

6 . CRAZY [countable usually singular] used in particular phrases to talk about someone being crazy or very stupid:

People going out in conditions like this need their heads examined.

be off your head British English :

You must be off your head if you think that.

If I walk in looking like that, they’ll think I’m not right in the head.

7 . a head/per head for each person:

Dinner works out at $30 a head.

average incomes per head

8 . RIVER/VALLEY [countable usually singular] the place where a river, valley etc begins

9 . come to a head ( also bring something to a head ) if a problem or difficult situation comes to a head, or something brings it to a head, it suddenly becomes worse and has to be dealt with quickly:

Things came to a head in the summer of 1997.

10 . FLOWER/PLANT [countable] the top of a plant where its flowers or leaves grow:

She was outside cutting the dead heads off the roses.

head of

a head of lettuce

11 . HEIGHT/DISTANCE [singular] the length of a head, used to measure height or distance:

She saw her father, a head above the rest of the crowd.

by a (short) head (=used to say that a horse won or lost a race but only by a small amount)

12 . COIN heads the side of a coin that has a picture of a person’s head on it

heads or tails? British English spoken (=used to decide something, by asking someone which side of a coin they guess will be showing when you throw it in the air and it lands) ⇨ tails at ↑ tail 1 (5b)

13 . laugh/shout/scream etc your head off informal to laugh, shout etc very loudly:

Fans were screaming their heads off.

14 . have a good/fine/thick etc head of hair to have a lot of hair on your head

15 . get/put your head down informal

a) to start working in a quiet determined way:

It’s time you got your head down and did some revision.

b) British English to sleep

16 . keep your head down to try to avoid being noticed or getting involved in something:

Do what you’re told and keep your head down.

17 . as soon as your head hits the pillow if you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, you fall asleep as soon as you lie down

18 . be out of/off your head informal

to not know what you are doing because you have taken drugs or drunk too much alcohol:

He was off his head on various drugs.

19 . go to sb’s head informal

a) if alcohol goes to your head, it quickly makes you feel drunk

b) if success goes to someone’s head, it makes them feel more important than they really are:

She never let fame go to her head.

20 . TOOL [countable usually singular] the wide end of a long narrow tool or piece of equipment

21 . put your heads together to discuss a difficult problem together:

The next morning, we all put our heads together to decide what should be done.

22 . go over sb’s head

a) to be too difficult for someone to understand:

The explanation went completely over my head.

b) to do something without discussing it with a particular person or organization first, especially when you should have discussed it with them

23 . can’t make head or/nor tail of something informal to be completely unable to understand something

24 . have your head in the clouds to think about something in a way that is not practical or sensible, especially when you think things are much better than they really are

25 . have a (good) head for figures/facts/business etc to be naturally good at doing calculations, remembering facts etc

26 . head for heights the ability to look down from high places without feeling ill or nervous

27 . a big head informal the opinion that you are much better, more important, more skilful etc than you really are:

I suppose I did do OK, but I’d be silly to get a big head about it.

28 . keep your head above water to manage to continue to live on your income or keep your business working when this is difficult because of financial problems:

For years they struggled to keep their heads above water.

29 . be/stand head and shoulders above somebody to be much better than other people:

One contestant stood head and shoulders above the rest.

30 . hold up your head ( also hold your head high ) to show pride or confidence, especially in a difficult situation:

If you do this, you’ll never be able to hold your head up again.

31 . be (like) banging/bashing etc your head against a brick wall spoken used to say that you are making no progress at all in what you are trying hard to do:

I’ve tried to talk some sense into them, but it’s like banging my head against a brick wall.

32 . bang/knock sb’s heads together spoken used to say that two people or groups should be forced to stop arguing and start to behave sensibly

33 . bite/snap sb’s head off to talk to someone very angrily with no good reason:

I offered to help her, but she just bit my head off.

34 . turn/stand something on its head to make people think about something in the opposite way to the way it was originally intended:

The attorney quickly turned his main defense argument on its head.

35 . give somebody their head to give someone the freedom to do what they want to do

36 . be/fall head over heels in love to love or suddenly start to love someone very much:

Sam was head over heels in love with his new bride.

37 . heads will roll spoken used to say that someone will be punished severely for something that has happened:

Heads will roll for this!

38 . on your own head be it spoken used to tell someone that they will be blamed if the thing they are planning to do goes wrong

39 . do your head in British English spoken informal to make you feel confused and annoyed:

Turn that noise down – it’s doing my head in!

40 . be/get in over your head to be or get involved in something that is too difficult for you to deal with:

In business, start small and don’t get in over your head.

41 . be over your head in debt American English to owe so much money that there is no possibility of paying it all back

42 . go head to head with somebody to deal with or oppose someone in a very direct and determined way:

Rather than go head to head with their main rivals, they decided to try a more subtle approach.

43 . heads up! American English spoken used to warn people that something is falling from above

44 . BEER [countable] the layer of small white ↑ bubble s on the top of a glass of beer

45 . ELECTRONICS [countable] a piece of equipment that changes information on a recording tape, a computer ↑ hard disk etc into electrical messages that electronic equipment can use

46 . head of cattle/sheep etc [plural] a particular number of cows, sheep etc:

a farm with 20 head of cattle

47 . head of water/steam pressure that is made when water or steam is kept in an enclosed space

48 . get/build up a head of steam to become very active after starting something slowly

49 . LAND [singular] British English a high area of land that sticks out into the sea – used in names:

Beachy Head

50 . INFECTION [countable] the centre of a swollen spot on your skin

51 . give (somebody) head informal to perform ↑ oral sex on someone

⇨ bury your head in the sand at ↑ bury (8), ⇨ knock something on the head at ↑ knock 1 (16), ⇨ off the top of your head at ↑ top 1 (18), ⇨ somebody can do something standing on their head at ↑ stand 1 (40), ⇨ turn sb’s head at ↑ turn 1 (18), ⇨ two heads are better than one at ↑ two (8)

• • •


■ verbs

▪ turn your head

John turned his head to look at the boy.

▪ shake your head (=move it from side to side, especially to show disagreement)

‘It’s too much,’ he said, shaking his head.

▪ nod your head (=move it up and down, especially to show agreement)

The audience nodded their heads enthusiastically.

▪ sb’s head hurts/aches/throbs

Her head was throbbing and she needed to lie down.

▪ raise/lift your head (=look up)

Tom raised his head to listen, then went back to his book.

▪ bow/bend/lower your head (=look down)

He bowed his head and tried not not to look at her.

▪ hang your head (=look down, especially because you are ashamed)

She hung her head, not sure how to reply.

▪ scratch your head (=especially because you do not understand something)

He scratched his head and started looking through the drawers again.

▪ cock your head (=hold your head at an angle)

The big dog cocked his head to one side and raised his ears.

■ adjectives

▪ bare

The sun beat down on her bare head.

▪ bald

His bald head shone with sweat.

▪ sb’s blonde/dark/grey etc head (=with blonde etc hair)

I saw my son’s blond head sticking out from the car window.

■ head + NOUN

▪ head injury

Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injuries.

II. head 2 S2 W2 BrE AmE verb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ head , ↑ heading , ↑ overhead , ↑ header , ↑ headship ; adjective : ↑ overhead , ↑ heady , ↑ headless , ↑ headed ; verb : ↑ head , ↑ behead ; adverb : ↑ overhead ]

1 . GO TOWARDS ( also be headed ) [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] to go or travel towards a particular place, especially in a deliberate way

head for/towards/back etc

The ship was heading for Cuba.

It’s about time we were heading home.

head north/south etc

We headed south towards the capital.

Where are you guys headed?

2 . FUTURE be heading ( also be headed ) [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] if you are heading for a particular situation, especially a bad one, it seems likely to happen

be heading for

Forecasters predict the region’s economy is heading for disaster.

Where is your life heading?

3 . BE IN CHARGE ( also head up ) [transitive] to be in charge of a team, government, organization etc:

David was asked to head up the technical team.

an interim government headed by the former Prime Minister

4 . AT TOP [transitive]

a) to be at the top of a list or group of people or things:

The movie heads the list of Oscar nominations.

b) be headed if a page is headed with a particular name, title, image etc, it has it on the top:

The page was headed ‘Expenses’.

officially-headed writing paper

5 . AT FRONT [transitive] to be at the front of a line of people:

a procession headed by the Queen

6 . FOOTBALL [intransitive, transitive always + adverb/preposition] to hit the ball with your head, especially in football

head off phrasal verb

1 . to leave to go to another place:

I’m heading off now.

2 . head something ↔ off to prevent something from happening, especially something bad:

The President intervened to head off the conflict.

3 . head somebody ↔ off to stop someone going somewhere by moving in front of them:

Soldiers headed them off at the border.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.