(down) by the head, Nautical. so loaded as to draw more water forward than aft.
    come to a head,
    1. to suppurate, as a boil.
    2. to reach a crisis; culminate: The struggle for power came to a head.
    get one's head together, Slang. to have one's actions, thoughts, or emotions under control or in order: If he'd get his head together, maybe he'd get to work on time.
    give head, Slang: Vulgar. to perform fellatio or cunnilingus.
    give someone his/her head, to permit someone to do as he or she likes; allow someone freedom of choice: She wanted to go away to college, and her parents gave her her head.
    go to someone's head,
    1. to make someone dizzy or drunk; overcome one with excitement: Power went to his head. The brandy went to his head.
    2. to make someone conceited or self-important: Success went to his head.
    hang one's head, to become dejected or ashamed: When he realized what an unkind thing he had done, he hung his head in shame.Also hide one's head.
    have one’s head screwed on right/straight, Informal. to be sensible or rational: It seems like these young people have their heads screwed on right and that our future is in great hands.Also have one’s head on right/straight.
    head and shoulders,
    1. far better, more qualified, etc.; superior: In intelligence, he was head and shoulders above the rest of the children in the class.
    2. force.
    head over heels,
    1. headlong, as in a somersault: He tripped and fell head over heels into the gully.
    2. intensely; completely: head over heels in love.
    3. impulsively; carelessly: They plunged head over heels into the fighting.
    head to head, in direct opposition or competition: The candidates will debate head to head.
    keep one's head, to remain calm or poised, as in the midst of crisis or confusion: It was fortunate that someone kept his head and called a doctor.
    keep one's head above water, to remain financially solvent: Despite their debts, they are managing to keep their heads above water.
    lay/put heads together, to meet in order to discuss, consult, or scheme: Neither of them had enough money for a tour of Europe, so they put their heads together and decided to find jobs there.
    lose one's head, to become uncontrolled or wildly excited: When he thought he saw an animal in the underbrush, he lost his head and began shooting recklessly.
    make head, to progress or advance, especially despite opposition; make headway: There have been many delays, but we are at last making head.
    make heads roll, to exert authority by firing or dismissing employees or subordinates: He made heads roll as soon as he took office.
    not make head or tail of, to be unable to understand or decipher: We couldn't make head or tail of the strange story.Also not make heads or tails of.
    off the top of one's head, candidly or extemporaneously: Off the top of my head, I'd say that's right.
    one's head off, extremely; excessively: We screamed our heads off at that horror movie. He laughed his head off at the monkey's antics.
    on one's head, as one's responsibility or fault: Because of his reckless driving he now has the deaths of three persons on his head.
    out of one's head/mind,
    1. insane; crazy.
    2. Informal.delirious; irrational: You're out of your head if you accept those terms.
    over one's head,
    1. beyond one's comprehension, ability, or resources: The classical allusion went right over his head.
    2. beyond one's financial resources or ability to pay: He's lost over his head in that poker game.
    over someone's head, to appeal to someone having a superior position or prior claim: She went over her supervisor's head and complained to a vice president.
    pull one's head in, Australian Slang. to keep quiet or mind one's own business; shut up.
    rear its (ugly) head, (of something undesirable) to emerge or make an appearance, especially after being hidden: Jealousy reared its ugly head and destroyed their relationship.
    take it into one's head, to form a notion, purpose, or plan: She took it into her head to study medicine.Also take into one's head.
    turn someone's head,
    1. to cause someone to become smug or conceited: Her recent success has completely turned her head.
    2. to cause one to become foolish or confused: A whirlwind romance has quite turned his head.

Origin of head

before 900; Middle English he(v)ed, Old English hēafod; cognate with Old High German houbit, Gothic haubith; akin to Old English hafud- (in hafudland headland), Old Norse hǫfuth, Latin caput (see capital1)
Related formshead·like, adjectivemul·ti·head, noun

Synonyms for head

Antonyms for head

1. foot. 39. subordinate. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for rear its ugly head



Edith. 1907–81, US dress designer: won many Oscars for her Hollywood film costume designs



the upper or front part of the body in vertebrates, including man, that contains and protects the brain, eyes, mouth, and nose and ears when presentRelated adjective: cephalic
the corresponding part of an invertebrate animal
something resembling a head in form or function, such as the top of a tool
  1. the person commanding most authority within a group, organization, etc
  2. (as modifier)head buyer
  3. (in combination)headmaster
the position of leadership or commandat the head of his class
  1. the most forward part of a thing; a part that juts out; frontthe head of a queue
  2. (as modifier)head point
the highest part of a thing; upper endthe head of the pass
the froth on the top of a glass of beer
aptitude, intelligence, and emotions (esp in the phrases above or over one's head, have a head for, keep one's head, lose one's head, etc)she has a good head for figures; a wise old head
plural head a person or animal considered as a unitthe show was two pounds per head; six hundred head of cattle
the head considered as a measure of length or heighthe's a head taller than his mother
  1. a dense inflorescence such as that of the daisy and other composite plants
  2. any other compact terminal part of a plant, such as the leaves of a cabbage or lettuce
a culmination or crisis (esp in the phrase bring or come to a head)
the pus-filled tip or central part of a pimple, boil, etc
the head considered as the part of the body on which hair grows denselya fine head of hair
the source or origin of a river or stream
(capital when part of name) a headland or promontory, esp a high one
the obverse of a coin, usually bearing a portrait of the head or a full figure of a monarch, deity, etcCompare tail 1
a main point or division of an argument, discourse, etc
(often plural) the headline at the top of a newspaper article or the heading of a section within an article
  1. the front part of a ship or boat
  2. (in sailing ships) the upper corner or edge of a sail
  3. the top of any spar or derrick
  4. any vertical timber cut to shape
  5. (often plural) a slang word for lavatory
grammar another word for governor (def. 7)
the taut membrane of a drum, tambourine, etc
  1. the height of the surface of liquid above a specific point, esp when considered or used as a measure of the pressure at that pointa head of four feet
  2. pressure of water, caused by height or velocity, measured in terms of a vertical column of water
  3. any pressurea head of steam in the boiler
  1. a person who regularly takes drugs, esp LSD or cannabis
  2. (in combination)an acidhead; a pothead
mining a road driven into the coal face
  1. the terminal point of a route
  2. (in combination)railhead
a device on a turning or boring machine, such as a lathe, that is equipped with one or more cutting tools held to the work by this device
an electromagnet that can read, write, or erase information on a magnetic medium such as a magnetic tape, disk, or drum, used in computers, tape recorders, etc
informal short for headmaster, headmistress
  1. the head of a horse considered as a narrow margin in the outcome of a race (in the phrase win by a head)
  2. any narrow margin of victory (in the phrase (win) by a head)
informal short for headache
curling the stones lying in the house after all 16 have been played
bowls the jack and the bowls that have been played considered together as a target area
against the head rugby from the opposing side's put-in to the scrum
bite someone's head off or snap someone's head off to speak sharply and angrily to someone
(bring or come to a head)
  1. to bring or be brought to a crisismatters came to a head
  2. (of a boil) to cause to be or be about to burst
get it into one's head to come to believe (an idea, esp a whimsical one)he got it into his head that the earth was flat
give head slang to perform fellatio
give someone his head to allow a person greater freedom or responsibility
give a horse its head to allow a horse to gallop by lengthening the reins
go to one's head
  1. to make one dizzy or confused, as might an alcoholic drink
  2. to make one conceitedhis success has gone to his head
head and shoulders above greatly superior to
head over heels
  1. turning a complete somersault
  2. completely; utterly (esp in the phrase head over heels in love)
hold up one's head to be unashamed
keep one's head to remain calm
keep one's head above water to manage to survive a difficult experience
make head to make progress
make head or tail of (used with a negative) to attempt to understand (a problem, etc)he couldn't make head or tail of the case
off one's head or out of one's head slang insane or delirious
off the top of one's head without previous thought; impromptu
on one's head or on one's own head at one's (own) risk or responsibility
one's head off slang loudly or excessivelythe baby cried its head off
over someone's head
  1. without a person in the obvious position being considered, esp for promotionthe graduate was promoted over the heads of several of his seniors
  2. without consulting a person in the obvious position but referring to a higher authorityin making his complaint he went straight to the director, over the head of his immediate boss
  3. beyond a person's comprehension
put their heads together informal to consult together
take it into one's head to conceive a notion, desire, or wish (to do something)
turn heads to be so beautiful, unusual, or impressive as to attract a lot of attention
turn something on its head or stand something on its head to treat or present something in a completely new and different wayhealth care which has turned orthodox medicine on its head
turn someone's head to make someone vain, conceited, etc


(tr) to be at the front or top ofto head the field
(tr often foll by up) to be in the commanding or most important position
(often foll by for) to go or cause to go (towards)where are you heading?
to turn or steer (a vessel) as specifiedto head into the wind
soccer to propel (the ball) by striking it with the head
(tr) to provide with or be a head or headingto head a letter; the quotation which heads chapter 6
(tr) to cut the top branches or shoots off (a tree or plant)
(intr) to form a head, as a boil or plant
(intr often foll by in) (of streams, rivers, etc) to originate or rise in
head them Australian to toss the coins in a game of two-up
Derived Formsheadlike, adjective

Word Origin for head

Old English hēafod; related to Old Norse haufuth, Old Frisian hāved, Old Saxon hōbid, Old High German houbit
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 rear its ugly head



"to be at the head or in the lead," c.1200, from head (n.). Meaning "to direct the head (toward)" is from c.1600. Related: headed, heading. The earliest use of the word as a verb meant "behead" (Old English heafdian). Verbal phrase head up "supervise, direct" is attested by 1930.



"most important, principal, leading," c.1200, from head (n.). Old English heafod was used in this sense in compounds.



Old English heafod "top of the body," also "upper end of a slope," also "chief person, leader, ruler; capital city," from Proto-Germanic *haubudam (cf. Old Saxon hobid, Old Norse hofuð, Old Frisian haved, Middle Dutch hovet, Dutch hoofd, Old High German houbit, German Haupt, Gothic haubiþ "head"), from PIE *kaput- "head" (cf. Sanskrit kaput-, Latin caput "head").

Modern spelling is early 15c., representing what was then a long vowel (as in heat) and remained after pronunciation shifted. Of rounded tops of plants from late 14c. Meaning "origin of a river" is mid-14c. Meaning "obverse of a coin" is from 1680s; meaning "foam on a mug of beer" is first attested 1540s; meaning "toilet" is from 1748, based on location of crew toilet in the bow (or head) of a ship. Synechdochic use for "person" (as in head count) is first attested late 13c.; of cattle, etc., in this sense from 1510s. As a height measure of persons, from c.1300. Meaning "drug addict" (usually in a compound with the preferred drug as the first element) is from 1911.

To give head "perform fellatio" is from 1950s. Phrase heads will roll "people will be punished" (1930) translates Adolf Hitler. Head case "eccentric or insane person" is from 1979. Head game "mental manipulation" attested by 1972. To have (one's) head up (one's) ass is attested by 1978.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for rear its ugly head




The uppermost or forwardmost part of the human body, containing the brain and the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and jaws.
The analogous part of various vertebrate and invertebrate animals.
The pus-containing tip of an abscess, boil, or pimple.
The rounded proximal end of a long bone.
The end of a muscle that is attached to the less movable part of the skeleton.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with rear its ugly head

rear its ugly head

Appear. This phrase is used only of something undesirable or unpleasant, as in The interview went very well until a question about his academic record reared its ugly head. This expression was first recorded in slightly different form in Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers (1857): “Rebellion had already reared her hideous head.”


In addition to the idioms beginning with head

  • head above water, keep one's
  • head and shoulders above
  • head for
  • head in the clouds, have one's
  • head in the sand
  • head off
  • head on
  • head or tail
  • head out
  • head over heels
  • heads or tails
  • head start
  • heads up
  • heads will roll
  • head up

also see:

  • beat into someone's head
  • beat one's head against the wall
  • big head
  • bite someone's head off
  • bring to a head
  • can't make head or tail of
  • count noses (heads)
  • do blindfolded (standing on one's head)
  • enter one's mind (head)
  • eyes in the back of one's head
  • from head to toe
  • get into one's head
  • get one's head examined
  • get through one's head
  • give someone his or her head
  • good head on one's shoulders
  • go to one's head
  • hang one's head
  • hang over (one's head)
  • have a head for
  • have a screw loose (head screwed on right)
  • hide one's head
  • hide one's head in the sand
  • hit the nail on the head
  • hold a gun to someone's head
  • hold one's head high
  • in over one's head
  • keep one's head
  • laugh one's head off
  • like a chicken with its head cut off
  • lose one's head
  • make one's head spin
  • need like a hole in the head
  • not right in the head
  • off one's head
  • off the top of one's head
  • on one's head
  • on the block (put one's head)
  • over one's head
  • price on one's head
  • put ideas in someone's head
  • put our heads together
  • rear its ugly head
  • rocks in one's head
  • roof over one's head
  • scratch one's head
  • shake one's head
  • soft in the head
  • swelled head
  • talk someone's arm (head) off
  • throw oneself (at someone's head)
  • touched in the head
  • trouble one's head
  • turn one's head
  • upside the head
  • use one's head
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.