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[hed-huhn-ting] /ˈhɛdˌhʌn tɪŋ/
(among certain primitive peoples) the practice of hunting down and decapitating victims and preserving their heads as trophies.
the act or practice of actively searching for new employees, especially for professionals or executives:
Every June the electronics manufacturers go headhunting among the newly graduated engineers.
the act or practice of firing without cause, especially someone disliked:
Their periodic headhunting was a contributing factor in the company's failures.
the act or practice of trying to destroy the power, position, or influence of one's competitors or foes:
Headhunting is ferocious in advertising.
Origin of headhunting
First recorded in 1850-55; head + hunting


[hed-huhnt] /ˈhɛdˌhʌnt/
a headhunting expedition:
The men left the village to go on a headhunt.
verb (used without object)
to engage in headhunting.
Origin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for head-hunting
Historical Examples
  • In 1896 there were about 100,000 head-hunting Igorrotes in the Benguet district.

    The Philippine Islands John Foreman
  • At this time the atrocious custom of head-hunting prevailed in the island.

    Four Young Explorers Oliver Optic
  • From all that I could learn, head-hunting is a sport, like fox-hunting in England.

    Where the Strange Trails Go Down E. Alexander Powell
  • The practice of head-hunting was also dealt with by James Brooke.

    Children of Borneo Edwin Herbert Gomes
  • He is a black Napoleon, a head-hunting, man-eating Talleyrand.

    A Son Of The Sun Jack London
  • Doubtless this is connected with the obnoxious custom of head-hunting.

  • head-hunting, besides, still lives around my doorstep in Samoa.

    In the South Seas Robert Louis Stevenson
  • But head-hunting is not the passion with him that it is with many Malay peoples.

    The Bontoc Igorot Albert Ernest Jenks
  • They invariably, too, take the heads of all killed on a head-hunting expedition.

    The Bontoc Igorot Albert Ernest Jenks
  • About this time the warriors of Tinglayan returned from a head-hunting expedition.

    The Bontoc Igorot Albert Ernest Jenks
British Dictionary definitions for head-hunting


the practice among certain peoples of removing the heads of slain enemies and preserving them as trophies
the recruitment, esp through an agency, of executives from one company to another, often rival, company
(US, slang) the destruction or neutralization of political opponents
Derived Forms
head-hunter, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for head-hunting



To act as a headhunter

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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