Definition of “head” - English Dictionary

“head” in English

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uk /hed/ us /hed/

head noun (BODY PART)

A1 [ C ] the part of the body above the neck where the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and brain are:

Put this hat on to keep your head warm.
He banged his head on the car as he was getting in.
She nodded/shook her head (= showed her agreement/disagreement).

[ S ] a person or animal when considered as a unit:

Dinner will cost £20 a/per head (= for each person).
I did a quick head count (= calculated how many people there were).
They own a hundred head of cattle (= 100 animals).

[ S ] a measure of length or height equal to the size of a head:

Her horse won by a head.
Paul is a head taller than Andrew.

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head noun (MIND)

B1 [ C ] the mind and mental abilities:

You need a clear head to be able to drive safely.
What put that (idea) into your head? (= What made you think that?)
I can't get that tune/that man out of my head (= I cannot stop hearing the tune in my mind/thinking about that man).
Use your head (= think more carefully)!
Harriet has a (good) head for figures (= she is very good at calculating numbers).
UK Do you have a head for heights (= are you able to be in high places without fear)?

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head noun (LEADER)

B1 [ C ] someone in charge of or leading an organization, group, etc.:

the head of the History department
the head chef
his first season as head coach

A2 [ C ] mainly UK a headteacher

head boy/girl UK

a boy or girl who often represents his or her school on formal occasions

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head noun (TOP PART)

C2 [ S ] the top part or beginning of something:

the head of the queue
the head of the page
Diana, the guest of honour, sat at the head of the table (= the most important end of it).

[ C ] the larger end of a nail, hammer, etc.

[ C ] the top part of a plant where a flower or leaves grow:

a head of lettuce

[ C ] the layer of white bubbles on top of beer after it has been poured

[ C ] the upper part of a river, where it begins

[ C ] the top part of a spot when it contains pus (= yellow liquid)

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uk /hed/ us /hed/

head verb (GO)

B2 [ I + adv/prep ] to go in a particular direction:

I was heading out of the room when she called me back.
We were heading towards Kumasi when our truck broke down.
He headed straight for (= went towards) the fridge.
I think we ought to head back/home (= return to where we started) now, before it gets too dark.

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head verb (LEADER)

B2 [ T ] to be in charge of a group or organization:

She heads one of Britain's leading travel firms.
Judge Hawthorne was chosen to head the team investigating the allegations of abuse.

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uk / -hed/ us / -hed/

(Definition of “head” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“head” in American English

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us /hed/

head noun (BODY PART)

[ C/U ] the part of the body that contains the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and the brain:

[ C ] She nodded her head in agreement.

[ C/U ] A head is also the approximate length of a head used as a measurement:

[ C ] Carlos is almost a head taller than Manuel.

head noun (MIND)

[ C ] the mind and mental abilities:

She has a good head for figures.
If you’d just use your head (= think clearly and carefully), you would realize that you are better off living where you are.
Someone offered me the ticket, and your name popped into my head.

head noun (TOP)

[ C/U ] a position or part at the top, front, or beginning:

[ U ] They were early enough to get a place at the head of the line.
[ U ] As the guest of honor, he sat at the head of the table (= the more important end).

[ C/U ] The head of a plant is the top part where a flower or leaves grow:

[ C ] I bought two heads of lettuce.

head noun (LEADER)

[ C ] someone who leads or is in charge of an organization or group, or this position of leadership:

In 1990 he was made head of the engineering division.


us /hed/

head verb (GO)

[ I ] to go in a particular direction:

I was heading out the door when the phone rang.
We decided to head back/home (= return to where we started) before it got too dark.
fig. He’s headed for trouble if he gets involved with her.

head verb (LEAD)

[ T ] to lead or control something:

She headed a group that defended the senator against detractors.

head verb (BE AT TOP)

[ T ] to be at the top, front, or beginning of something:

Currently, her name heads the list of candidates for the job.

headadjective [ not gradable ]

us /hed/

head adjective [ not gradable ] (MAIN)

main or most important:

In his first season as head coach, McGuire guided his team to the regional championship.

(Definition of “head” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

“head” in Business English

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headnoun [ C ]

uk /hed/ us

a person who is in charge of a team, department, or an organization:

Each department head has a great deal of freedom with regard to decision-making.
The proposal awaits final approval by a meeting of EU heads of state next month.
If you are a single parent, you can reduce your tax liability by filing as a head of household with a dependent child.

one person considered as a unit:

cost/price/spend per head The region saw incomes per head fall by an average 4 per cent a year over the past decade.
The airline offered maximum compensation of £150 a head to anyone whose flight was disrupted by the strike action.
be/get in over your head

to be involved in something that is too difficult for you to deal with:

He denied fraud saying he was a businessman who just got in over his head.
bury/have your head in the sand

to refuse to think about a problem or difficult situation that could have unpleasant effects:

The dangers of identity theft are clear but many companies still choose to bury their heads in the sand and act only after there has been a security breach.
come to a head also bring sth to a head

if a difficult situation comes to a head, or someone brings it to a head, it reaches a stage when someone must take strong action to deal with it:

The row came to a head when the US imposed one billion dollars in taxes on a whole range of consumer goods.
get your head round/around sth

to manage to understand something:

It's hard to get your head round these new tax laws.
get/keep your head down UK informal

to put all your effort into finishing a particular task:

If I get my head down, I'll be able to finish the report before the end of the day.

to do or say as little as possible in order to avoid attention:

The chairman intends to keep his head down until his disagreement with the serious fraud office is settled.
go over sb's head

to deal with someone at a higher level:

He was furious that staff had gone over his head to try and implement departmental changes without his approval.

to be too difficult for someone to understand:

Most of the budget meeting went over my head.
have a (good) head for sth

to be very good at something:

She had a good head for business.
head on

if you deal with something head on, you deal with it directly and with determination:

Leading corporations are tackling their carbon emissions head on.

if you compete head on with another business, you offer the same products or services and each try to be more successful than the other:

The merger should enable the bank to compete head on with the other major investment institutions.
heads will roll

used to say that people are likely to be punished or lose their jobs because of something they have done:

Sources close to the bank have denied suggestions that heads will roll following the huge losses reported this week.
keep your head above water

to try to manage a difficult situation, especially when it involves a lot of work or a lack of money:

The business has lurched from one financial crisis to another but we have managed to keep our heads above water.
put our/your/their heads together

to work together with others to solve a problem or deal with a difficult situation:

If we want to remain competitive, we'd better put our heads together and come up with new ways of reaching our market.
two heads are better than one

used to say that two people working together will achieve more than one person working alone


uk /hed/ us

[ T ] HR to lead or manage a team, department, organization, etc.:

After five years in the US office, he returns to London to head the finance department.

[ I ] to move in a particular direction or towards a particular result:

be headed for/towards sth The corporate bond market is heading for its worst year in a decade as prices continue to fall.
These initial signs of recovery show the company is once again headed in the right direction.

[ T, passive ] to put a title at the top of a page, column, etc.:

The report was headed "confidential".
head north/south

informal FINANCE, STOCK MARKET if share prices or currencies head north, they increase in value, and if they head south, they lose value:

The job cuts followed significant drops in stock values when the Nasdaq headed south.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “head” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)