the upper part of the body in humans, joined to the trunk by the neck, containing the brain, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
the corresponding part of the body in other animals.
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.
the position or place of leadership, greatest authority, or honor.
a person to whom others are subordinate, as the director of an institution or the manager of a department; leader or chief.
a person considered with reference to his or her mind, disposition, attributes, status, etc.:
wise heads; crowned heads.
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.
the foremost part or front end of anything or a forward projecting part:
head of a procession.
the part of a weapon, tool, etc., used for striking:
the head of a hammer.
a person or animal considered merely as one of a number, herd, or group:
ten head of cattle; a dinner at $20 a head.
a culminating point, usually of a critical nature; crisis or climax:
to bring matters to a head.
the hair covering the head:
to wash one’s head.
froth or foam at the top of a liquid:
the head on beer.

any dense flower cluster or inflorescence.
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.

the maturated part of an abscess, boil, etc.
a projecting point of a coast, especially when high, as a cape, headland, or promontory.
the obverse of a coin, as bearing a head or other principal figure (opposed to tail).
one of the chief parts or points of a written or oral discourse; a main division of a subject, theme, or topic.
something resembling a head in form or a representation of a head, as a piece of sculpture.
the source of a river or stream.

a habitual user of a drug, especially LSD or marijuana (often used in combination):
feds versus the heads; an acid-head; a pothead.
a fan or devotee (usually used in combination):
a punk-rock head; a chili head.

heads, Distilling. alcohol produced during the initial fermentation.
Compare tail1 (def 6d).
a toilet or lavatory, especially on a boat or ship.

the forepart of a vessel; bow.
the upper edge of a quadrilateral sail.
the upper corner of a jib-headed sail.
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.
that part of the upper end of a mast between the highest standing rigging and the truck.
crown (def 28).


the member of an endocentric construction that belongs to the same form class and may play the same grammatical role as the construction itself.
the member upon which another depends and to which it is subordinate. In former presidents, presidents is head and former is modifier.

the stretched membrane covering the end of a drum or similar musical instrument.
Mining. a level or road driven into solid coal for proving or working a mine.
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.
Railroads. railhead (def 3).
(loosely) the pressure exerted by confined fluid:
a head of steam.
Also called pressure head. Hydraulics.

the vertical distance between two points in a liquid, as water, or some other fluid.
the pressure differential resulting from this separation, expressed in terms of the vertical distance between the points.
the pressure of a fluid expressed in terms of the height of a column of liquid yielding an equivalent pressure.

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.
Computers. read/write head.

a mounting for a camera, as on a tripod.
the part of an enlarger that contains the light source, negative carrier, lensboard, and lens.

Slang: Vulgar. fellatio or cunnilingus.
Archaic. power, strength, or force progressively gathered or gradually attained.
heads up! Informal. be careful! watch out for danger!
first in rank or position; chief; leading; principal:
a head official.
of, relating to, or for the head (often used in combination):
head covering; headgear; headpiece.
situated at the top, front, or head of anything (often used in combination):
headline; headboard.
moving or coming from a direction in front of the head or prow of a vessel:
head sea; head tide; head current.
Slang. of or relating to drugs, drug paraphernalia, or drug users.
to go at the head of or in front of; lead; precede:
to head a list.
to outdo or excel; take the lead in or over:
to head a race; to head one’s competitors in a field.
to be the head or chief of (sometimes followed by up):
to head a school; to head up a department.
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.
to go around the head of (a stream).
to furnish or fit with a head.
to take the head off; decapitate; behead.
to remove the upper branches of (a tree).
Fox Hunting. to turn aside (a fox) from its intended course.
to get in front of in order to stop, turn aside, attack, etc.
headline (def 4).
Soccer. to propel (the ball) by striking it with the head, especially with the forehead.
to move forward toward a point specified; direct one’s course; go in a certain direction:
to head toward town.
to come or grow to a head; form a head:
Cabbage heads quickly.
(of a river or stream) to have the head or source where specified.
head off, to go before in order to hinder the progress of; intercept:
The police headed off the fleeing driver at a railroad crossing.
(down) by the head, Nautical. so loaded as to draw more water forward than aft.
come to a head,

to suppurate, as a boil.
to reach a crisis; culminate:
The struggle for power came to a head.

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.
give head, Slang: Vulgar. to perform fellatio or cunnilingus.
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.
go to someone’s head,

to make someone dizzy or drunk; overcome one with excitement:
Power went to his head. The brandy went to his head.
to make someone conceited or self-important:
Success went to his head.

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.
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.
head and shoulders,

far better, more qualified, etc.; superior:
In intelligence, he was head and shoulders above the rest of the children in the class.
Archaic. by force.

head over heels,

headlong, as in a somersault:
He tripped and fell head over heels into the gully.
intensely; completely:
head over heels in love.
impulsively; carelessly:
They plunged head over heels into the fighting.

head to head, in direct opposition or competition:
The candidates will debate head to head.
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.
keep one’s head above water, to remain financially solvent:
Despite their debts, they are managing to keep their heads above water.
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.
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.
make head, to progress or advance, especially despite opposition; make headway:
There have been many delays, but we are at last making head.
make heads roll, to exert authority by firing or dismissing employees or subordinates:
He made heads roll as soon as he took office.
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.
off the top of one’s head, candidly or extemporaneously:
Off the top of my head, I’d say that’s right.
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.
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.
out of one’s head / mind,

insane; crazy.
Informal. delirious; irrational:
You’re out of your head if you accept those terms.

over one’s head,

beyond one’s comprehension, ability, or resources:
The classical allusion went right over his head.
beyond one’s financial resources or ability to pay:
He’s lost over his head in that poker game.

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.
pull one’s head in, Australian Slang. to keep quiet or mind one’s own business; shut up.
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.
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.
turn someone’s head,

to cause someone to become smug or conceited:
Her recent success has completely turned her head.
to cause one to become foolish or confused:
A whirlwind romance has quite turned his head.

Edith, 1897–1981, U.S. costume designer.
a native English suffix meaning “state of being” (godhead; maidenhead), occurring in words now mostly archaic or obsolete, many being superseded by forms in -hood.
Contemporary Examples

Big-Sky West Texas: A Road Trip Through Hidden America Condé Nast Traveler March 17, 2014
Stanley Booth on the Life and Hard Times of Blues Genius Furry Lewis Stanley Booth June 6, 2014
The Morning After Egypt’s Rabaa Massacre Sophia Jones July 28, 2013
Hallucinating Away a Heroin Addiction Abby Haglage May 3, 2014
The New Fight to Ban the Veil Asra Q. Nomani October 6, 2009

Historical Examples

Life And Adventures Of Martin Chuzzlewit Charles Dickens
Philothea Lydia Maria Child
In a Steamer Chair and Other Stories Robert Barr
Philothea Lydia Maria Child
The Education of Eric Lane Stephen McKenna

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 present related adjective cephalic
the corresponding part of an invertebrate animal
something resembling a head in form or function, such as the top of a tool

the person commanding most authority within a group, organization, etc
(as modifier): head buyer
(in combination): headmaster

the position of leadership or command: at the head of his class

the most forward part of a thing; a part that juts out; front: the head of a queue
(as modifier): head point

the highest part of a thing; upper end: the head of the pass
the froth on the top of a glass of beer
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
(pl) head. a person or animal considered as a unit: the show was two pounds per head, six hundred head of cattle
the head considered as a measure of length or height: he’s a head taller than his mother

a dense inflorescence such as that of the daisy and other composite plants
any other compact terminal part of a plant, such as the leaves of a cabbage or lettuce

a culmination or crisis (esp in the phrase bring or come to a head)
the pus-filled tip or central part of a pimple, boil, etc
the head considered as the part of the body on which hair grows densely: a fine head of hair
the source or origin of a river or stream
(capital when part of name) a headland or promontory, esp a high one
the obverse of a coin, usually bearing a portrait of the head or a full figure of a monarch, deity, etc Compare tail1
a main point or division of an argument, discourse, etc
(often pl) the headline at the top of a newspaper article or the heading of a section within an article

the front part of a ship or boat
(in sailing ships) the upper corner or edge of a sail
the top of any spar or derrick
any vertical timber cut to shape
(often pl) a slang word for lavatory

(grammar) another word for governor (sense 7)
the taut membrane of a drum, tambourine, etc

the height of the surface of liquid above a specific point, esp when considered or used as a measure of the pressure at that point: a head of four feet
pressure of water, caused by height or velocity, measured in terms of a vertical column of water
any pressure: a head of steam in the boiler


a person who regularly takes drugs, esp LSD or cannabis
(in combination): an acidhead, a pothead

(mining) a road driven into the coal face

the terminal point of a route
(in combination): railhead

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
See cylinder head
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
(informal) short for headmaster, headmistress

the head of a horse considered as a narrow margin in the outcome of a race (in the phrase win by a head)
any narrow margin of victory (in the phrase (win) by a head)

(informal) short for headache
(curling) the stones lying in the house after all 16 have been played
(bowls) the jack and the bowls that have been played considered together as a target area
(rugby) against the head, from the opposing side’s put-in to the scrum
bite someone’s head off, snap someone’s head off, to speak sharply and angrily to someone
(bring or come to a head)

to bring or be brought to a crisis: matters came to a head
(of a boil) to cause to be or be about to burst

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
(slang) give head, to perform fellatio
give someone his head, to allow a person greater freedom or responsibility
give a horse its head, to allow a horse to gallop by lengthening the reins
go to one’s head

to make one dizzy or confused, as might an alcoholic drink
to make one conceited: his success has gone to his head

head and shoulders above, greatly superior to
head over heels

turning a complete somersault
completely; utterly (esp in the phrase head over heels in love)

hold up one’s head, to be unashamed
keep one’s head, to remain calm
keep one’s head above water, to manage to survive a difficult experience
make head, to make progress
(used with a negative) make head or tail of, to attempt to understand (a problem, etc): he couldn’t make head or tail of the case
(slang) off one’s head, out of one’s head, insane or delirious
off the top of one’s head, without previous thought; impromptu
on one’s head, on one’s own head, at one’s (own) risk or responsibility
(slang) one’s head off, loudly or excessively: the baby cried its head off
over someone’s head

without a person in the obvious position being considered, esp for promotion: the graduate was promoted over the heads of several of his seniors
without consulting a person in the obvious position but referring to a higher authority: in making his complaint he went straight to the director, over the head of his immediate boss
beyond a person’s comprehension

(informal) put their heads together, to consult together
take it into one’s head, to conceive a notion, desire, or wish (to do something)
turn heads, to be so beautiful, unusual, or impressive as to attract a lot of attention
turn something on its head, stand something on its head, to treat or present something in a completely new and different way: health care which has turned orthodox medicine on its head
turn someone’s head, to make someone vain, conceited, etc
(transitive) to be at the front or top of: to head the field
(transitive) often foll by up. to be in the commanding or most important position
(often foll by for) to go or cause to go (towards): where are you heading?
to turn or steer (a vessel) as specified: to head into the wind
(soccer) to propel (the ball) by striking it with the head
(transitive) to provide with or be a head or heading: to head a letter, the quotation which heads chapter 6
(transitive) to cut the top branches or shoots off (a tree or plant)
(intransitive) to form a head, as a boil or plant
(intransitive) often foll by in. (of streams, rivers, etc) to originate or rise in
(Austral) head them, to toss the coins in a game of two-up
Edith. 1907–81, US dress designer: won many Oscars for her Hollywood film costume designs
combining form
indicating a person having a preoccupation as specified: breadhead

A headache, esp as a component of a hangover; a BIG HEAD: You won’t believe the head I had next morning (1893+)
The foam on a glass of beer (1893+)
A person: at twenty-five cents a head, no reserved seats/ One head that used to claim to sell stockings called (1551+)
Fellatio or cunnilingus; blow job, hair pie: Some quiff is going to give you head
A narcotics user, esp an addict: My trip is to reach as many heads in this country as I can, and turn them around (1911+ Narcotics)
The feeling of euphoria produced by a narcotic; high, rush: I take two Tuinals and get a nice head/ much of the head, or psychic lift, that users experience (1960s+ Narcotics)
A toilet or restroom: in the head, back in a sec

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
head start
head up


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