Head \Head\ (h[e^]d), n. [OE. hed, heved, heaved, AS. he['a]fod;
akin to D. hoofd, OHG. houbit, G. haupt, Icel. h["o]fu[eth],
Sw. hufvud, Dan. hoved, Goth. haubi[thorn]. The word does not
correspond regularly to L. caput head (cf. E. Chief
), and its origin is unknown.]
1. The anterior or superior part of an animal, containing the
brain, or chief ganglia of the nervous system, the mouth,
and in the higher animals, the chief sensory organs; poll;
2. The uppermost, foremost, or most important part of an
inanimate object; such a part as may be considered to
resemble the head of an animal; often, also, the larger,
thicker, or heavier part or extremity, in distinction from
the smaller or thinner part, or from the point or edge;
as, the head of a cane, a nail, a spear, an ax, a mast, a
sail, a ship; that which covers and closes the top or the
end of a hollow vessel; as, the head of a cask or a steam
3. The place where the head should go; as, the head of a bed,
of a grave, etc.; the head of a carriage, that is, the
hood which covers the head.
4. The most prominent or important member of any organized
body; the chief; the leader; as, the head of a college, a
school, a church, a state, and the like. "Their princes
and heads." --Robynson (More's Utopia).
The heads of the chief sects of philosophy.
Your head I him appoint. --Milton.
5. The place or honor, or of command; the most important or
foremost position; the front; as, the head of the table;
the head of a column of soldiers.
An army of fourscore thousand troops, with the duke
of Marlborough at the head of them. --Addison.
6. Each one among many; an individual; -- often used in a
plural sense; as, a thousand head of cattle.
It there be six millions of people, there are about
four acres for every head. --Graunt.
7. The seat of the intellect; the brain; the understanding;
the mental faculties; as, a good head, that is, a good
mind; it never entered his head, it did not occur to him;
of his own head, of his own thought or will.
Men who had lost both head and heart. --Macaulay.
8. The source, fountain, spring, or beginning, as of a stream
or river; as, the head of the Nile; hence, the altitude of
the source, or the height of the surface, as of water,
above a given place, as above an orifice at which it
issues, and the pressure resulting from the height or from
motion; sometimes also, the quantity in reserve; as, a
mill or reservoir has a good head of water, or ten feet
head; also, that part of a gulf or bay most remote from
the outlet or the sea.
9. A headland; a promontory; as, Gay Head. --Shak.
10. A separate part, or topic, of a discourse; a theme to be
expanded; a subdivision; as, the heads of a sermon.
11. Culminating point or crisis; hence, strength; force;
Ere foul sin, gathering head, shall break into
The indisposition which has long hung upon me, is
at last grown to such a head, that it must quickly
make an end of me or of itself. --Addison.
12. Power; armed force.
My lord, my lord, the French have gathered head.
13. A headdress; a covering of the head; as, a laced head; a
head of hair. --Swift.
14. An ear of wheat, barley, or of one of the other small
(a) A dense cluster of flowers, as in clover, daisies,
thistles; a capitulum.
(b) A dense, compact mass of leaves, as in a cabbage or a
16. The antlers of a deer.
17. A rounded mass of foam which rises on a pot of beer or
other effervescing liquor. --Mortimer.
18. pl. Tiles laid at the eaves of a house. --Knight.
Note: Head is often used adjectively or in self-explaining
combinations; as, head gear or headgear, head rest. Cf.
A buck of the first head
, a male fallow deer in its fifth
year, when it attains its complete set of antlers. --Shak.
By the head
. (Naut.) See under By
, Feed head
, etc. See under Elevator
From head to foot
, through the whole length of a man;
completely; throughout. "Arm me, audacity, from head to
Head and ears
, with the whole person; deeply; completely;
as, he was head and ears in debt or in trouble. [Colloq.]
. (Naut.) See 5th Fast
(Anat.), the most anterior of the three pairs
of embryonic renal organs developed in most vertebrates;
, a capitation tax; a poll tax. --Milton.
, a poll tax. [Obs.]
, a sea that meets the head of a vessel or rolls
against her course.
Head and shoulders
(a) By force; violently; as, to drag one, head and
shoulders. "They bring in every figure of speech,
head and shoulders." --Felton.
(b) By the height of the head and shoulders; hence, by a
great degree or space; by far; much; as, he is head
and shoulders above them.
Heads or tails
or Head or tail
, this side or that side;
this thing or that; -- a phrase used in throwing a coin to
decide a choice, question, or stake, head being the side
of the coin bearing the effigy or principal figure (or, in
case there is no head or face on either side, that side
which has the date on it), and tail the other side.
Neither head nor tail
, neither beginning nor end; neither
this thing nor that; nothing distinct or definite; -- a
phrase used in speaking of what is indefinite or confused;
as, they made neither head nor tail of the matter.
, a wind that blows in a direction opposite the
off the top of my head
, from quick recollection, or as an
approximation; without research or calculation; -- a
phrase used when giving quick and approximate answers to
questions, to indicate that a response is not necessarily
Out of one's own head
, according to one's own idea; without
advice or co["o]peration of another.
Over the head of
, beyond the comprehension of. --M. Arnold.
to go over the head of (a person), to appeal to a person
superior to (a person) in line of command.
To be out of one's head
, to be temporarily insane.
To come or draw to a head
. See under Come
To give (one) the head, or To give head
, to let go, or to
give up, control; to free from restraint; to give license.
"He gave his able horse the head." --Shak. "He has so long
given his unruly passions their head." --South.
To his head
, before his face. "An uncivil answer from a son
to a father, from an obliged person to a benefactor, is a
greater indecency than if an enemy should storm his house
or revile him to his head." --Jer. Taylor.
To lay heads together
, to consult; to conspire.
To lose one's head
, to lose presence of mind.
To make head
, or To make head against
, to resist with
success; to advance.
To show one's head
, to appear. --Shak.
To turn head
, to turn the face or front. "The ravishers
turn head, the fight renews." --Dryden.