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head definition


This page has 90 definitions of head in English and Estonian. Head is a noun, an adjective and verb. Examples of how to use head in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

See also: -head and Head

English head definition

Alternative forms


Etymology 1

From Middle English hed, heed, heved, heaved, from Old English hēafd-, hēafod (head; top; source, origin; chief, leader; capital), from Proto-West Germanic *haubud, from Proto-Germanic *haubudą (head), from Proto-Indo-European *káput-. The modern word comes from Old English oblique stem hēafd-, the expected Modern English outcome for hēafod would be *heaved (similar to the Middle English word), with irregular pronunciation of /ˈheɪvd/. Doublet of caput, cape, chef and chief.


head (countable and uncountable, plural heads or head)

  1. (countable) 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.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 8, in Mr. Pratt's Patients, page 175:
      Afore we got to the shanty Colonel Applegate stuck his head out of the door. His temper had been getting raggeder all the time, and the sousing he got when he fell overboard had just about ripped what was left of it to ravellings.
    1. (people) To do with heads.
      1. Mental or emotional aptitude or skill.
        The company is looking for people with good heads for business.
        He has no head for heights.
        It's all about having a good head on your shoulders.
      2. (figurative, metonymically) Mind; one's own thoughts.
        This song keeps going through my head.
        • 1935, George Goodchild, chapter 1, in Death on the Centre Court:
          “Anthea hasn't a notion in her head but to vamp a lot of silly mugwumps. She's set her heart on that tennis bloke [] whom the papers are making such a fuss about.”
      3. A headache; especially one resulting from intoxication.
        • 1888, Rudyard Kipling, “Thrown Away”, in Plain Tales from the Hills, Calcutta: Thacker, Spink and Co.; London: W. Thacker & Co., →OCLC, page 15:
          He found whist, and gymkhanas, and things of that kind (meant to amuse one after office) good; but he took them seriously, too, just as seriously as he took the “head” that followed after drink.
        • 1925 July – 1926 May, A[rthur] Conan Doyle, “(please specify the chapter number)”, in The Land of Mist (eBook no. 0601351h.html), Australia: Project Gutenberg Australia, published April 2019:
          "Mornin', Tom," he said in a husky voice. Then as the wife left the room: "Got a drop of Scotch about? I've a head on me this morning."
      4. A headdress; a covering for the head.
        a laced head;   a head of hair
      5. (figurative, metonymically) An individual person.
        Admission is three dollars a head.
        • 1749, Henry Fielding, chapter VII, in The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volume III, London: A[ndrew] Millar, [], →OCLC, book VIII, pages 196–197:
          [] but here we are obliged to diſcloſe ſome Maxims, which Publicans hold to be the grand Myſteries of their Trade. [] And, laſtly, if any of their Gueſts call but for little, to make them pay a double Price for every Thing they have ; ſo that the Amount by the Head may be much the ſame.
    2. (animals) To do with heads.
      1. (plural head, measure word for livestock and game) A single animal.
        200 head of cattle and 50 head of horses
        12 head of big cattle and 14 head of branded calves
        at five years of age this head of cattle is worth perhaps $40
        a reduction in the assessment per head of sheep
        they shot 20 head of quail
      2. The population of game.
        we have a heavy head of deer this year
        planting the hedges increased the head of quail and doves
      3. The antlers of a deer.
  2. (countable) The topmost, foremost, or leading part.
    What does it say at the head of the page?
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 10, in Mr. Pratt's Patients, page 243:
      Men that I knew around Wapatomac didn't wear high, shiny plug hats, nor yeller spring overcoats, nor carry canes with ivory heads as big as a catboat's anchor, as you might say.
    1. The end of a table.
      1. The end of a rectangular table furthest from the entrance; traditionally considered a seat of honor.
        During meetings, the supervisor usually sits at the head of the table.
      2. (billiards) The end of a pool table opposite the end where the balls have been racked.
    2. (countable) The principal operative part of a machine or tool.
      1. The end of a hammer, axe, golf club, or similar implement used for striking other objects.
      2. The end of a nail, screw, bolt, or similar fastener which is opposite the point; usually blunt and relatively wide.
        Hit the nail on the head!
      3. The sharp end of an arrow, spear, or pointer.
        The head of the compass needle is pointing due north.
      4. (lacrosse) The top part of a lacrosse stick that holds the ball.
      5. (music) A drum head, the membrane which is hit to produce sound.
        Tap the head of the drum for this roll.
      6. 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.
      7. (computing) The part of a disk drive responsible for reading and writing data.
      8. (automotive) The cylinder head, a platform above the cylinders in an internal combustion engine, containing the valves and spark plugs.
      9. (machining) A milling head, a part of a milling machine that houses the spindle.
    3. (uncountable, countable) The foam that forms on top of beer or other carbonated beverages.
      Pour me a fresh beer; this one has no head.
      He never learned how to pour a glass of beer so it didn't have too much head.
    4. (engineering) The end cap of a cylindrically-shaped pressure vessel.
    5. (coopering) The end cap of a cask or other barrel.
      Synonym: barrelhead
    6. (geology) The uppermost part of a valley.
    7. (Britain, geology) Deposits near the top of a geological succession.
    8. (journalism) Short for headline.
      • 1968, Earl English, Clarence Hach, Scholastic Journalism, page 166:
        The content of a headline over a news story should be taken from the lead of the story. [] The head should give the same impression as the body of the story.
    9. (medicine) The end of an abscess where pus collects.
    10. (music) The headstock of a guitar.
    11. (nautical) A leading component.
      1. The top edge of a sail.
      2. The bow of a vessel.
    12. (Britain) A headland.
  3. (social, countable, metonymically) A leader or expert.
    1. The place of honour, or of command; the most important or foremost position; the front.
      • 1708, Joseph Addison, The present state of the war, and the necessity of an augmentation, consider'd[1], page 33:
        We saw the last Campaign that an Army of Fourscore Thousand of the best Troops in Europe, with the Duke of Marlborough at the Head of them, cou'd do nothing against an Enemy that were too numerous to be assaulted in their Camps, or attack'd in their Strong Holds.
    2. (metonymically) Leader; chief; mastermind.
      I'd like to speak to the head of the department.
      Police arrested the head of the gang in a raid last night.
      • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 7, in Mr. Pratt's Patients, pages 153–154:
        “I don't know how you and the ‘head,’ as you call him, will get on, but I do know that if you call my duds a ‘livery’ again there'll be trouble. It's bad enough to go around togged out like a life saver on a drill day, but I can stand that 'cause I'm paid for it. What I won't stand is to have them togs called a livery. []
    3. (metonymically) A headmaster or headmistress.
      • 1992 June 24, Edwina Currie, Diary:
        At 4pm, the phone went. It was The Sun: 'We hear your daughter's been expelled for cheating at her school exams...'

        She'd made a remark to a friend at the end of the German exam and had been pulled up for talking.

        As they left the exam room, she muttered that the teacher was a 'twat'. He heard and flipped—a pretty stupid thing to do, knowing the kids were tired and tense after exams. Instead of dropping it, the teacher complained to the Head and Deb was carpeted.
      I was called into the head's office to discuss my behaviour.
    4. (music, slang, figurative, metonymically) A person with an extensive knowledge of hip hop.
      Only true heads know this.
  4. A significant or important part.
    1. A beginning or end, a protuberance.
      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. A clump of seeds, leaves or flowers; a capitulum.
        Give me a head of lettuce.
        • 2013 May-June, David Van Tassel, Lee DeHaan, “Wild Plants to the Rescue”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3:
          Plant breeding is always a numbers game. [] The wild species we use are rich in genetic variation,  [] . In addition, we are looking for rare alleles, so the more plants we try, the better. These rarities may be new mutations, or they can be existing ones that are neutral—or are even selected against—in a wild population. A good example is mutations that disrupt seed dispersal, leaving the seeds on the heads long after they are ripe.
        1. An ear of wheat, barley, or other small cereal.
        2. The leafy top part of a tree.
      3. (anatomy) The rounded part of a bone fitting into a depression in another bone to form a ball-and-socket joint.
      4. (nautical) The toilet of a ship.
        I've got to go to the head.
      5. (in the plural) Tiles laid at the eaves of a house.
        • 1875, Edward H. Knight, Knight's American Mechanical Dictionary, vol. II, page 1086
          Heads. (Roofing.) Tiles which are laid at the eaves of a house
    2. A component.
      1. (jazz) The principal melody or theme of a piece.
      2. (linguistics) A morpheme that determines the category of a compound or the word that determines the syntactic type of the phrase of which it is a member.
  5. Headway; progress.
    We are having a difficult time making head against this wind.
  6. Topic; subject.
    We will consider performance issues under the head of future improvements.
  7. (only in the singular) Denouement; crisis.
    These isses are going to come to a head today.
    • 1595 December 9 (first known performance), William Shakespeare, “The life and death of King Richard the Second”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene i], page 41:
      Northumberland, thou Ladder wherewithall
      The mounting Bullingbrooke aſcends my Throne,
      The time ſhall not be many houres of age,
      More then it is, ere foule ſinne, gathering head,
      Shall breake into corruption []
    • 1712 October 18, anonymous letter in The Spectator, edited by Joseph Addison, no. 513, collected in The Works of the Late Right Honorable Joseph Addison, Esq, Birmingham: John Baskerville, published 1761, volume IV, page 10:
      The indiſpoſition which has long hung upon me, is at laſt grown to ſuch an head, that it muſt quickly make an end of me, or of itſelf.
  8. (fluid dynamics) Pressure and energy.
    1. (uncountable, countable) A buildup of fluid pressure, often quantified as pressure head.
      Let the engine build up a good head of steam.
      How much head do you have at the Glens Falls feeder dam?
    2. The difference in elevation between two points in a column of fluid, and the resulting pressure of the fluid at the lower point.
    3. More generally, energy in a mass of fluid divided by its weight.
  9. (slang, uncountable) Fellatio or cunnilingus; oral sex.
    She gave great head.
  10. (slang) The glans penis.
  11. (slang, countable) A heavy or habitual user of illicit drugs.
    • 1936, Lee Duncan, Over The Wall, Dutton:
      Then I saw the more advanced narcotic addicts, who shot unbelievable doses of powerful heroin in the main line – the vein of their arms; the hysien users; chloroform sniffers, who belonged to the riff-raff element of the dope chippeys, who mingled freely with others of their kind; canned heat stiffs, paragoric hounds, laudanum fiends, and last but not least, the veronal heads.
    • 1968, Fred Davis with Laura Munoz, “Heads and freaks: patterns and meanings of drug use among hippies”, in Journal of Health and Social Behavior, volume 9, number 2, pages 156–64:
      The term, "head," is, of course, not new with hippies. It has a long history among drug users generally, for whom it signified a regular, experienced user of any illegal drug—e.g., pot "head," meth "head," smack (heroin) "head."
    • 2004, Martin Torgoff, Can't Find My Way Home [] , Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 177:
      The hutch now looks like a “Turkish bath,” and the heads have their arms around one another, passing the pipe and snapping their fingers as they sing Smokey Robinson's “Tracks of My Tears” into the night.
  12. (obsolete) Power; armed force.
Usage notes
  • To give something its head is to allow it to run freely. This is used for horses, and, sometimes, figuratively for vehicles.
Derived terms
Terms derived from head (noun)


head (not comparable)

  1. Of, relating to, or intended for the head.


head (third-person singular simple present heads, present participle heading, simple past and past participle headed)

  1. (transitive) To be in command of. (See also head up.)
    Who heads the board of trustees?
    to head an army, an expedition, or a riot
  2. (transitive) To come at the beginning or front of; to commence.
    A group of clowns headed the procession.
    The most important items headed the list.
    • 1943 November and December, G. T. Porter, “The Lines Behind the Lines in Burma”, in Railway Magazine, page 325:
      When it arrived, the train was headed by a "K" class 4-6-0 wood-burning locomotive, and a water-tank wagon next to the tender was immediately besieged by women and girls, clad in their picturesque national costume, all with empty kerosene tins for water, a scene which was re-enacted at each stop down the line.
    • 2018, James Lambert, “Setting the Record Straight: An In-depth Examination of Hobson-Jobson”, in International Journal of Lexicography, volume 31, number 4, →DOI, page 491:
      The citations are set in smaller font, start on a new indented line and are headed with a date.
  3. (transitive) To strike with the head; as in soccer, to head the ball
  4. (intransitive) To move in a specified direction.
    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.
    Where does the train head to?
    • 1960 December, Voyageur, “The Mountain Railways of the Bernese Oberland”, in Trains Illustrated, page 752:
      To the left towers the Jungfrau, with the train heading directly towards it.
  5. (fishing) To remove the head from a fish.
    The salmon are first headed and then scaled.
  6. (intransitive) To originate; to spring; to have its course, as a river.
    • 1775, James Adair, The History of the American Indians[2], page 223:
      a broad purling river, that heads in the great blue ridge of mountains,
    • 1934, Henry G. Lamond, An Aviary on the Plains, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, page 156:
      The Templeton heads in the Cloncurry ranges[.]
  7. (intransitive) To form a head.
    This kind of cabbage heads early.
    • 1995, Anne Raver, “Gandhi Gardening”, in Deep in the Green: An Exploration of Country Pleasures, New York, N.Y.: Alfred A. Knopf, →ISBN:
      To be honest, this hasn't been my Garden of Eden year. [] The lettuce turned bitter and bolted. The Green Comet broccoli was good, but my coveted Romanescos never headed up.
  8. (transitive) To form a head to; to fit or furnish with a head.
    to head a nail
  9. (transitive) To cut off the top of; to lop off.
    to head trees
  10. (transitive, obsolete) To behead; to decapitate.
    • 1822, Allan Cunningham, “Ezra Peden”, in Traditional Tales of the English and Scottish Peasantry, volume 1, page 37:
      I tell thee, man of God, the uncharitableness of the sect to which thou pertainest has thronged the land of punishment as much as those who headed, and hanged, and stabbed, and shot, and tortured.
    • c. 1603–1604 (date written), William Shakespeare, “Measure for Measure”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene i]:
      If you head, and hang all that offend that way
      but for ten yeare together; you'll be glad to giue out a
      Commission for more heads
  11. To go in front of.
    to head a drove of cattle
    to head a person
  12. To get in the front of, so as to hinder or stop; to oppose.
    The wind headed the ship and made progress difficult.
  13. (by extension) To check or restrain.
  14. To set on the head.
    to head a cask
Derived terms
Related terms
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Etymology 2

From Middle English heed, from Old English hēafod- (main), from Proto-West Germanic *haubida-, derived from the noun *haubid (head). Cognate with Saterland Frisian hööft-, West Frisian haad-, Dutch hoofd-, German Low German höövd-, German haupt-.


head (not comparable)

  1. Foremost in rank or importance.
    the head cook
  2. Placed at the top or the front.
  3. Coming from in front.
    head sea
    head wind


Estonian head definition



  1. inflection of hea:
    1. partitive singular
    2. nominative plural