Green’s Dictionary of Slang

head n.

1. [19C+] a lavatory, a privy [naut. jargon head or heads, the ship’s lavatory, which was orig. sited at the ‘head’ of a ship, near the bowsprit].

2. in the context of the mouth and/or face.

(a) [mid-19C–1920s] a postage stamp [the monarch’s head appears on all UK stamps].

(b) [mid-19C+] (US) the mouth, as used in phrs. below.

(c) [1930s+] (also head play) oral intercourse, usu. fellatio, but also cunnilingus.

(d) [1960s+] (US) facial appearance, usu. constr. with ‘bad’, e.g. she’s got great tits, but that’s a bad head.

3. with ref. to drugs.

(a) [mid-19C; 1950s+] (orig. US drugs) the regular user of any kind of drug; orig. of alcohol.

(b) [1950s+] a drug-induced state.

(c) [1960s+] a state of mind, other than drug-influenced.

(d) [1980s+] (Aus. prison) high-grade marijuana.

(e) [2000s] (UK black) a cannabis cigarette.

4. in senses of a painful head.

(a) [late 19C+] a hangover, e.g. I’ve got an awful head this morning.

(b) [1940s] a sickness resulting from contaminated homemade alcohol.

5. in senses of a tough or aggressive individual [hardhead n.].

(a) [late 19C+] a professional gambler .

(b) [20C+] a long-term prisoner.

(c) [1910s–20s] (Aus.) a person in authority.

(d) [1980s] (US black) a belligerent, aggressive person.

6. with ref. to the penis.

(a) [late 19C+] the end of the penis.

(b) [1950s+] (US) the erect penis.

7. [1900s–30s] (UK Und.) a thief, a trickster.

8. [1920s–30s] (US Und.) an illegal immigrant [? such immigrants were counted as ‘heads’].

9. [1920s+] (US) a person.

10. (US black) the target of a mugging.

11. with ref. to a young woman.


(a) [20C+] a young woman.

(b) [1970s+] a sexually appealing young woman.

12. [1930s+] a user, a performer.

13. [1970s+] (US campus) beer.

14. [1980s+] (US black) a white person, seen as a potential victim of street crime.

15. [1990s+] (Irish ) as a form of address as in Howaya head?

In compounds

head artist (n.)

[1970s] (US) a fellator or fellatrix.

head cheese (n.) [its odour and its appearance near the head of the penis]

[1940s+] smegma.

head drugs (n.) [they affect the head (though so do all drugs)]

[1960s+] (drugs) amphetamines.

head game (n.) [game n. (12)]

[2010s] a woman’s skills as a fellatrix.

head gasket (n.)

[1960s+] (US) a condom.

head-hunter (n.)

[1970s+] (US) one who performs oral sex, esp. in exchange for drugs.

head job (n.) [nominalization of -head sfx (4)]

[2000s] (N.Z.) a fool.

headjob (n.) (also hat job) [job n.2 (2); SE hat plays on the idea of the mouth ‘putting a hat’ on the penis]

[1960s+] (orig. US) an act of oral intercourse, usu. fellatio.

head jockey (v.)

[1950s+] of a man, to perform cunnilingus.

head play (n.)

see sense 2c above.

head queen (n.) [-queen sfx (2)]

[1940s–70s] (US gay) a male homosexual who frequents public toilets in search of sex.

head-set (n.) [var. on SE mind-set]

[1970s+] (US) a state of mind, a mood.

head shop (n.)

1. [1960s+] (orig. US) a shop specializing in drug paraphernalia [the first such emporium was San Francisco’s Psychedelic Shop, opened in Jan. 1966].

2. [1980s] (US) a pornographic bookshop.

head-worker (n.)

[1910s+] (US gay) a fellator.

In phrases

get head (v.)

[1990s+] to receive oral sex, thus to be fellated.

get one’s head on (v.)

[2000s] (US drugs) to become intoxicated by a drug.

give head (v.) (orig. US)

1. [1950s+] to perform oral sex, usu. to fellate.

2. [1960s+] to give flattering comments, usu. with sexual innuendo.

have a head on (v.)

[late 19C–1950s] to have a hangover.

keep one’s head shut (v.)

[1900s–50s] to be quiet.

open one’s head (v.)

[ mid-19C–1910s] (US) to open one’s mouth, to speak (indiscreetly or excessively).

shut one’s head (v.) (also shut one’s neck, shut up one’s head)

[mid-19C+] (US) to be quiet; usu. as imper. shut your head!/shut your neck!

work one’s head (v.)

to use one’s intelligence and/or guile to avoid hard work or unpleasant tasks; thus head-worker, one skilled in such avoidance.

SE in slang uses

Based on SE head, the chief or senior figure

In compounds

head-beetler (n.) [SE beetle, any implement used in a variety of industrial processes for crushing, bruising, beating, flattening or smoothing] [mid–late 19C]

1. ‘the bully of the workshop, who lords it over his fellow-workmen by reason of superior strength, skill in fighting &c’ (Hotten, 1864).

2. a foreman.

head buck-cat (n.) [Irish buc, he-goat]

[1960s–70s] (Irish) a person in authority.

head bummaroo (n.) (also head bummer) [? bumper n.2 (3)]

[mid-19C–1940s] the chief, the person in charge.

head chick (n.) [chick n.1 (3)]

1. [1930s–40s] (US black) a female lover, a favourite girlfriend; one’s wife; esp. an expert fellatrix.

2. [1950s–60s] the top prostitute in a pimp’s ‘stable’.

head cock (n.)

[1970s] (US) the person in charge.

head hen (n.)

[1930s–50s] (US black) a landlady.

head knock (n.) [the image of the deity ‘knocking’ and summoning one to heaven/hell] [1940s–50s] (US black)

1. God, Jesus.

2. an important, outstanding person.

In phrases

head bully of the pass (n.) (also head bully of the passage bank, head cully of the pass, head cully of the passage bank) [bully n.1 (2) + pass-bank n.]

[late 17C–early 19C] a gang boss or top criminal who levies a tax on all games of chance in the area of which he is in control.

head nigger in charge (n.) (also head negro (in charge)) [the implication being that, given institutional racism, the authority lies in the title not in the actual job; according to Darryl Pinckney (New York Review of Books, Dec. 1995), coined to describe the authoritarian black rights campaigner Booker T. Washington (1856–1915)]

[20C+] (US black) a sarcastic ref. to any black authority figure.

General uses

In compounds


see separate entries.


see separate entries.


see separate entries.

headbin (n.) [var. on headcase n. (1)]

[20C+] (Ulster) an unstable person, an eccentric.

headbone (n.)

[1930s+] (US black) the skull.

headcase (n.)

see separate entry.

head doctor (n.)

1. [1950s+] (US, also head doc) a psychiatrist, a psychotherapist.

2. [2000s] (drugs) a drug dealer.

head-feeler (n.)

[1940s] (US) a psychotherapist.


see separate entries.

head game (n.)

[1970s+] (orig. US) psychological trickery and manipulation, usu. hostile or negative in intent; usu. in pl.

head hunt/hunter

see separate entries.

headkicker (n.)

[1990s+] (Aus.) a person in authority who is aggressive.

head knocker (n.) (US)

1. [late 19C+] a boss.

2. [1960s+] a brutal police officer.

3. a demanding mental challenge.

head-knocking (adj.)

[1960s+] (US) violent.

headlamps (n.)

1. [mid–late 19C] the eyes.

2. [1950s+] (US) spectacles.

3. [1960s+] the female breasts.


see separate entries.

headpiece (n.)

see separate entries.

head rails (n.) (also muzzle rails, nob rails) [Grose cites it as a ‘sea phrase’]

[mid-18C–1930s] the teeth.

head robber (n.)

1. [mid-19C] a butler [SE head, chief + robber; used by those with a low opinion of servants].

2. [late 19C] a boxer, a prize-fighter [he ‘takes your head away’].

headshot (n.) [1990s+] (US black teen)

a shot to the head from any firearm.

head smack

see separate entries.

headsman’s daughter (n.)

[early 19C] the guillotine.

headstaggers (n.) [SE staggers, a disease of horses and sheep]

[20C+] (Irish) mental illness or instability.

head-top (n.)

[1970s–80s] (UK black) the hair.

head-topper (n.)

[mid–late 19C] a wig.


see separate entries.

headwhupper (n.) [whip v.1 (2c)]

[1950s+] (US black) a police officer.

headwrecker (n.) (also headwreck)

[1990s+] something, or someone, which causes a great deal of anxiety or unhappiness.

In phrases

do one’s head (v.)

1. [1910s] (Aus.) to lose one’s temper.

2. [1970s+] (orig. US campus) to take a preferred drug.

do someone’s head (in) (v.)

see under do in v.

do something (standing) on one’s head (v.)

see under stand v.2

get one’s head down (v.) (also put one’s head down) [1940s+]

1. to have some sleep.

2. (Aus.) to plead guilty in court [one nods an assent to the charge].

get one’s head out of one’s ass (v.) (also get one’s head out, get one’s head out of one’s can)

[1940s+] (US) to stop being stupid, to stop acting stupidly.

get one’s head right (v.)

[2000s] (US black) to smoke marijuana.

get one’s head together (v.)

[1960s+] to sort oneself out, to calm down.

get one’s head up (v.)

1. [1960s+] (US drugs, also get one’s head uptight) to take a drug, usu. cannabis.

2. [1970s+] (US) to cheer up.

give someone’s head the bastinado (v.) [SE bastinado, to beat, to cudgel; ‘the lover’s penis is the cudgel and the bumps that it “raises” on the unsuspecting husband’s head are the cuckold’s horns’ (Henke, Gutter Life and Language, 1988)]

[early 17C] of a man, to cuckold a husband.

give someone the head (v.)

[1960s] to head-butt.

go head on (v.)

[1930s] (US black) to stop trying to fool someone; usu. as imper.

go head up (v.)

[1980s] (US black) to take part in some form of activity with another person.

go upside someone’s head (v.)

[1950s+] (US black) to hit in the face, to beat up.

have a head full of proclamations (v.)

[late 17C–18C] to have one’s head full of nonsense.

have a head like a beaten favourite (v.) (also have a head like a drover’s dog, a half-sucked mango)

[1980s+] (Aus.) to be ugly or unattractive.

have a head like a robber’s dog (v.)

1. [1940s+] (Aus.) to be ugly or unattractive; also attrib.

2. [1940s+] (Aus.) to be suffering a very bad hangover.

have a head like a welder’s bench (v.)

[200s+] (Aus.) to be very unattractive, esp. when suffering from acne.

have a head on (v.) [SE have a head/smart head on one’s shoulders]

[late 19C–1950s] to be aware, to be alert.

have heads on them like boils (v.) (also have heads on them like mice)

[1940s+] (Aus.) used to describe any strong or powerful combination, whether of a hand of cards, a succession of good throws of the dice or a group of people.

have one’s head in a sling (v.)

see under sling n.2

have one’s head screwed on (v.)

see under screw v.

have one’s head up one’s arse (v.) (also have one’s head (stuck) up one’s ass) [1940s+] (orig. US)

1. to be completely and deliberately stupid.

2. to be obsessed with oneself and one’s own interests.

3. to ignore what is happening.

have one’s head wedged (v.) [it is wedged ‘up one’s ass n. (2)’]

[1960s+] (US) to be very stupid.

head-and-heels (n.) [one has to lift the boy by his head and heels to position him for sex]

[1970s] (US gay) a young, inexperienced homosexual.

head down, arse up

[2000s] (N.Z.) a phr. used of a hard worker.

head over teakettle (adv.) (also ...tinkettle, ...tincup)

[1940s+] head-over-heels.

head-the-ball (n.) [i.e. one who has headed the ball so often that their brains are scrambled] [1990s+] (Irish/Scot./Welsh)

1. a fool.

2. a usu. derog. term of address.

3. a violent psychotic.


see separate entries.

hit one’s head on the ceiling (v.)

[1970s] (US campus) to make a mistake.

hold one’s head (v.) [? the holding of a horse’s head]

[20C+] (US black) to be patient, to restrain oneself.

In phrases

keep one’s head cool (v.) (also keep one’s head right)

[1980s+] (US black) to keep control of oneself, both emotionally and physically.

keep one’s head down (v.) [1950s+]

1. to be careful.

2. to maintain a ‘low profile’.

make one’s head (v.)

[late 18C–mid-19C] (Irish) to acquire a tolerance or ‘head’ for drink.

off one’s head (adj.)

see separate entry.

on one’s head (adj.)

[1900s–30s] (US) emotional, in a state.

on the head (adv.)

[1940s+] exactly.

out of one’s head (adj.)

1. [mid-19C+] eccentric, insane, obsessive, delirious; occas. as an adv.

2. [1930s+] desperate, highly emotional.

3. [1940s+] (orig. US) experiencing the effects of a drug.

4. [1960s+] very drunk.

5. [1990s+] an intensifier, usu. with meaning utterly bored or miserable.

pull one’s head out of one’s ass (v.) (also ...arse)

to desist from being stupid; often as imper.

pull someone’s head (v.)

[1990s+] (Aus.) to gain or divert someone’s attention.

put a (new) head on someone (v.)

1. [mid-19C–1920s] (US) to punch or assault another, to disfigure in a fight.

2. [late 19C] to defeat, to overcome.

3. [late 19C] to silence, to make someone be quiet.

put one’s head out (v.)

[2000s] (US black gang) to murder.

run upside someone’s head (v.)

[1950s+] (US black) to beat up.

talk one’s head off (v.) (also talk one’s ass off, ...leg off, gab one’s head off, gas...) [SE talk/gab v./gas v.1 (1)]

[1910s+] (orig. US) to talk incessantly.

want one’s head read (v.) (also need one’s head read, ...examined, need to get one’s head read, ought to have/get one’s head read, should get one’s head read, want one’s head examined, …looked at)

[20C+] to be very stupid or eccentric; also as excl. get your head read!

wear one’s head large (v.)

[late 19C] to be suffering from a hangover.

In exclamations

get your head read!

[20C+] (Aus.) a general derisive excl.; occas. just as v.

pull your head in! (also pull your head in your hole! pull your horns in! ...lid in! ...skull in!) [the action of the tortoise]

[20C+] (US/Aus.) an excl. of annoyance, mind your own business! don’t interfere!; occas. just as v.