heads up

[hedz uhp]

What does heads up mean?

As an exclamation, Heads up! is used to call attention to danger or another important matter. As a basic noun, a heads-up is an advance notice or warning.

Related words:

  • chin up
  • forewarning
  • pay attention, idiot
Examples of heads up


Examples of heads up
I suck at answering phone calls, FaceTimes, or texts lol you have to give me a heads up because I’m either asleep or in a coma
@_typicalmariah, May, 2018
In case you don't already have an alert on your calendar, heads up: Father's Day 2018 is quickly approaching. This year, it will fall on Sunday, Jun. 17. So don't worry, you have plenty of time to put a little thought into dad's present.
Brittany Bennett, Bustle, May, 2018
SCAM ALERT 🚨 Heads up during the holidays - a lot of dirtbags are out there trying to pull some crap to take your identity and money! Just got this email 20 mins ago, and at first it looked totally legit. When you look closer, you'll notice a couple of things that wouldn't happen at Amazon:
@realchrispowell, Instagram, November, 2016

Where does heads up come from?

heads up

In late 18th century militaries, Heads up! encouraged soldiers to keep their heads held high in tough times—chin up guys.

Since then, heads up has taken on a number of meanings, all based on the idea that one is paying attention when their head is … up.

In the 1910s, heads-up described someone as alert or skillful (e.g., a heads-up police officer). Also around this time Heads up! became an exclamation to warn someone of danger ahead or overhead.

In the 1930s, the phrase heads up also signaled a frank statement, a kind of tbh of its day: I don’t like chopped liver, heads up.

Then, we get to the 1970s, and heads-up came into use in its most common and familiar contemporary meaning: an”advance warning,” “notice,” or “reminder.” For instance, Give me a heads-up when you’re off the plane or Heads up: This will be on the exam. By the 2000s, this sense extended to “facts” or “information” in general: What’s the heads-up on the new project?

As a nod of the head can be used to acknowledge someone (usually a guy) you’re walking by, a heads-up occasionally took on the sense of a “greeting” in the 1990s: The dude gave me a heads-up in the park. That’s not dirty, we swear.

Heads up also is the name of two popular games.

Since the 1950s, apparently, schoolchildren have been playing Heads Up Seven Up. In the game, kids put their heads down on their desk as seven chosen classmates walk around the room tapping as many students. When done, the moderator shouts Heads up! and the tapped have to guess their tappers.

Based on a game she played on her talkshow, Ellen Degeneres developed an app-based game called Heads Up! Here, players select a trivia category (animals, Disney movies, etc.) and divide into teams. One team player places a smartphone or tablet on their head displaying a term they have to guess based on clues their teammates give. The aim is to guess as many you can within a given time limit.


Who uses heads up?

In everyday speech and writing, people may issue a heads up as a warning: Heads up, you’re about to bump into that pole. It’s common to say heads up before tossing something (keys, an apple) so you have the person’s attention.

Heads up very widely gets used in speech and writing for any bit of clickbaity “news” or as a friendly “notice.”

Heads up! still sees use in its early “hold your head high and proud” sense.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.