[ hed-huhn-ting ]
See synonyms for headhunting on Thesaurus.com
  1. (among certain primitive peoples) the practice of hunting down and decapitating victims and preserving their heads as trophies.

  2. 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.

  1. the act or practice of firing without cause, especially someone disliked: Their periodic headhunting was a contributing factor in the company's failures.

  2. 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

Words Nearby headhunting

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use headhunting in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for head-hunting


  1. the practice among certain peoples of removing the heads of slain enemies and preserving them as trophies

  2. the recruitment, esp through an agency, of executives from one company to another, often rival, company

  1. US slang the destruction or neutralization of political opponents

Derived forms of head-hunting

  • 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