blockhead

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

1549, block (n.) +‎ head.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (file)

Noun[edit]

blockhead (plural blockheads)

  1. (colloquial) A stupid person.
    • 1764, Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto:
      So I think, blockheads, said Manfred: what is it has scared you thus?
  2. A sideshow performer who hammers nails or similar items through his or her nostril into the nasal cavity; human blockhead.
    • 2005, Brian M. Wiprud, Stuffed, ISBN 0440335450, page 262:
      Waldo was sent that from an elderly blockhead named Fuzzy in Gibtown, Florida. That's the town to which most freaks retire.
    • 2014, Louis J. Parascandola & ‎John Parascandola -, A Coney Island Reader: Through Dizzy Gates of Illusion, ISBN 0231538197, page 306:
      He is a classic sideshow performer, entertaining crowds with feats such as sword swallowing, fire-eating, and chainsaw juggling. His specialty, however, is the human blockhead act, hammering six-inch nails up his nostrils.
    • 2016, M. Chemers, Staging Stigma: A Critical Examination of the American Freak Show, ISBN 023061681X:
      Burkhardt was a legendary figure in the sideshow world, a mentor and instructor to a new generation of blockheads and other working acts who now train in private classes at Coney Island USA's Sideshow School with Burkhardt's disciple Todd Robbins (Zigun 2006).

Synonyms[edit]

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Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

blockhead (third-person singular simple present blockheads, present participle blockheading, simple past and past participle blockheaded)

  1. To perform as a human blockhead.
    • 2007, Frank Cullen, ‎Florence Hackman, & ‎Donald McNeilly, Vaudeville old & new: an encyclopedia of variety performances in America, ISBN 0415938538:
      Like an old-time sideshow, the acts included lying on a bed of nails, blockheading and, of course, fire-eating.
  2. (rare) To behave in a stupid manner.
    • 1804, The Spirit of the Public Journals:
      Two years' blockading made fair Malta ours: A noble struggle! -- yet 't is thought (at Rading) That Britain's island shews superior pow'rs, To bear, and to survive, two years blockheading !
    • 1856, John Adams, The works of John Adams, second President of the United States, ISBN 1623764637:
      I have blockheading and boxing enough at Master Lovell's, I won't have it repeated here; and in a great passion, I threw the Virgil at his head, hit him in the face, and bruised his lip, and ran away.
    • 1958, The Ethical Outlook: A Journal of the American Ethical Union:
      The operation of blockheading is much the same as that of beheading, which Charles I underwent. In both the head is severed from the body. The body goes around without benefit of head. The victim becomes a Headless Horseman, or that more common figure a Headless Pedestrian. In our day the operation is often done not on an executioner's block but on Paradise Avenue in Suburbia Manor.