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See also: -head, head-, and Head
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Old English hēafod, from Proto-Germanic *khaubuthan, from Proto-Indo-European *kauput- (head, bowl). Cognate with German Haupt, Dutch hoofd, Swedish huvud; the Indo-European root is also the source of Latin caput.



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head (countable and uncountable, plural heads)

  1. (countable) syn. fig. transl. The part of the body of an animal or human which contains the brain, mouth and main sense organs.
    Be careful when you pet that dog on the head; it may bite.
    1. (countable) Mind; one's own thoughts.
      This song keeps going through my head.
    2. (uncountable) Mental or emotional aptitude or skill. syn. transl.
      The company is looking for somebody with a good head for business.
      He has no head for heights.
    3. (countable) An informal unit of proportion, equal to the height of a person's head from scalp to chin.
      A typical adult human is seven to eight heads tall.
    4. (countable) The part of something where the head rests. fig.
      Pillows are placed at the head of the bed.
    5. (slang, dated, countable) A headache; especially one resulting from intoxication.
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    6. (slang, uncountable) Fellatio or cunnilingus; oral sex fig. syn. transl.
      giving head
  2. (countable) A headlike object or mass. fig.
    As a comet moves away from the sun, the tail is in front of the head.
    1. A dense clump of leaves.
      Give me a head of lettuce.
    2. (botany) A cluster of fruits or flowers; a capitulum. fig.
      Look at the bee on the head of that thistle.
    3. (medicine) The end of an abscess where pus collects.
      Lance the head with a needle to drain the pus.
    4. (anatomy) The rounded protuberance of a bone fitting into a depression in another bone to form a ball-and-socket joint. fig.
  3. (countable) The foremost or leading part. fig.
    You can go to the head of the line.
    1. (nautical) The bow of a nautical vessel. fig.
    2. (nautical) The toilet of a ship. fig. syn. transl.
      I've got to go to the head.
    3. Headway; progress.
      We are having a difficult time making head against this wind.
    4. Template:slang anatomy The glans penis.
  4. (countable) The principal operative part, or business end.
    1. The end of a hammer, axe, or similar tool used for striking other objects. fig. transl.
    2. The sharp end of an arrow, spear, or pointer. fig.
      The head of the compass needle is pointing due north.
    3. A machine element which reads or writes electromagnetic signals to or from a storage medium.
      The heads of your tape player need to be cleaned. fig.
    4. The blunt end of a nail, screw, tack, pin or similar fastener. fig. syn. ant. transl.
      Hit the nail on the head!
  5. The topmost part. syn. ant. transl.
    1. The source of a river; the end of a lake where a river flows into it.
      The expedition followed the river all the way to the head.
    2. The foam that forms on top of beer or other carbonated beverages. fig. syn.
      Pour me a fresh beer; this one has no head.
    3. (nautical) The top of a sail. fig.
    4. (music) The headstock of a guitar. fig.
    5. (lacrosse) The top part of a lacrosse stick that holds the ball.
    6. (Britain, geology) Deposits near the top of a geological succession.
    7. (automotive) The cylinder head, a platform above the cylinders in an internal combustion engine, containing the valves and spark plugs. fig.
  6. (figuratively) A person.
    The old gray heads are meeting in council.
    1. (measure word for people) A single person.
      Admission is three dollars a head.
    2. (uncountable, measure word for livestock) A single animal.
      200 head of cattle
    3. Someone who is obsessed or heavily involved with something.
      Computer heads and internet lovers will enjoy this article.
    4. (countable, slang) A heavy or habitual user of illicit drugs.
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  7. (countable) Leader; chief; mastermind. syn. transl.
    I'd like to speak to the head of the department.
    Police arrested the head of the gang in a raid last night.
    1. A headmaster or headmistress. syn. transl.
      I was called into the head's office to discuss my behaviour.
  8. Topic; subject.
    We will consider performance issues under the head of future improvements.
    1. (linguistics) The main part of a word or phrase, which determines the category or syntactic type of that word or phrase.
    2. (jazz) The principal melody or theme of a piece.
  9. terminus; end
    The head of the rail line is at Spokane.
    1. (music) A drum head, the membrane which is hit to produce sound. fig.
      Tap the head of the drum for this roll.
    2. (engineering) The end cap of a cylindrically-shaped pressure vessel. fig.
  10. A buildup of fluid pressure, often quantified as pressure head.
    Let the engine build up a good head of steam.
    1. fig. (fluid dynamics) The difference in elevation between two points in a column of fluid, and the resulting pressure of the fluid at the lower point.
    2. (uncountable) denouement; crisis
      These isses are going to come to a head today.




Usage notes[edit]

  • To give something its head is to allow it to run freely. This is used for horses, and, sometimes, figuratively for vehicles.

Derived terms[edit]




  1. Of, relating to, or intended for the head.
  2. Foremost in rank or importance.
    The head cook.
  3. Placed at the top or the front.
  4. Coming from in front.
    head sea
    head wind



  • (coming from in front): tail




  1. (transitive) To be in command of. - see also head up
    Who heads the board of trustees?
  2. (transitive) To strike with the head; as in soccer, to head the ball
  3. (intransitive) To move in a specified direction. heading towards something
    We are going to head up North for our holiday. We will head off tomorrow. Next holiday we will head out West, or head to Chicago. Right now I need to head into town to do some shopping.
    I'm fed up working for a boss. I'm going to head out on my own, set up my own business.
  4. (fishing) To remove the head from a fish.
    The salmon are first headed and then scaled.