We all have one, you may hang yours or hold it high. You may shake it, turn it or scratch it. Lose it, keep it or bang it against a brick wall.
I’m talking about your head, also known as bonce, noggin, loaf or nut. Loaf comes from Cockney rhyming slang ‘loaf of bread – head’.
Head comes from Old English heafod. Maybe being such an old word is the reason we have so many ‘head’ phrases.
You may have a head for business, heights, figures, crosswords? You might have your head screwed on or have a good head on your shoulders. If you had a head start in life, you may be turning heads.
Perhaps you hold your head high, feel you’re head and shoulders better than others, be the head of the class, the head cheese or the head honcho.
If this was me, by now I’d say, off the top of my head, that my head had been turned. I would have a swelled head, be a bighead? Perhaps it’s all gone to my head and now I’m in way over my head, and it’s time to hang my head in shame.
Did it ever enter your head that I’ve had my head in the sand, or in the clouds? I’ve got a head like a sieve and can’t make head nor tail of this. It’s time to bring matters to a head.
Don’t bite my head off when I say this might be doing your head in. You can laugh your head off, if it doesn’t go over your head.
You can head a team, head the ball in soccer or head for the hills. You can give your horse its head, head ’em off at the pass and do all this standing on your head.
No wonder newcomers to the English language get confused and think English speakers are all head cases.
Head can also be – school principal, beer foam, bows of a ship, promontory such as Beachy Head, upper end of a bed, edible part of cabbage or lettuce, front of a queue, or the top of a page, the source of a river or each animal when counting, as in ‘forty head of cattle’.
If you can get your head around this, you might get it into your head that it’s all in your head. Whether you’re a mophead, an airhead or an egghead, remember the opening lines of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem If:
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…”