[hed-kwawr-terz, -kwaw-]

noun, plural head·quar·ters. (used with a singular or plural verb)

a center of operations, as of the police or a business, from which orders are issued; the chief administrative office of an organization: The operatives were always in touch with headquarters.
the offices or working location of a military commander; the place from which a commander customarily issues orders.
a military unit consisting of the commander, his staff, and other assistants.

Origin of headquarters

First recorded in 1640–50; head + quarters
Related formssub·head·quar·ters, noun, plural sub·head·quar·ters.


[hed-kwawr-ter, -kwaw-]

verb (used with object)

to situate in headquarters.

verb (used without object)

to establish one's headquarters.

Origin of headquarter

back formation from headquarters
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for headquarters

base, HQ

Examples from the Web for headquarters

Contemporary Examples of headquarters

Historical Examples of headquarters

  • I telephoned to your headquarters, and they said you had come here.

  • Uncle is full of that charity which at all events has its headquarters in the home counties.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • If you will permit me to use your house for a while, I shall make it my headquarters.'

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • He went at once to headquarters, where he told General Washington what he had learned.

    The Dare Boys of 1776

    Stephen Angus Cox

  • “Dick Dare, you are wanted at headquarters,” said the orderly.

    The Dare Boys of 1776

    Stephen Angus Cox

British Dictionary definitions for headquarters


pl n (sometimes functioning as singular)

any centre or building from which operations are directed, as in the military, the police, etc
a military formation comprising the commander, his staff, and supporting echelons
Abbreviations: HQ, h.q.



informal, mainly US to place in or establish as headquarters
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

Word Origin and History for headquarters

1640s, from head (adj.) + quarters. Headquarter as a verb is recorded from 1903.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper