Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pumpkin head n.

also punkin-head
[SE pumpkin + SE head/-head sfx (1)]

1. a fool.

[[UK]W. Kenrick Falstaff’s Wedding (1766) III vi: fal.: Thou pumpion-headed rascal, stay, or — bar.: Give me good words, then, Sir John. Why pumpkin-head, pray now? fal.: Hast thou never seen a pumpion, [...] set over a candle’s-end, on a gate-post, to frighten ale-wives from gossiping by owl-light? That is a type of thee – that is thy emblem: thy head being hollow, full of light, and easily broken].
[US]‘Dietrich Knickerbocker’ Hist. N.Y. in Irving Works (1864) 291: Beside each pumpkin-head peered the end of a rusty musket .
[UK]Examiner (London) 1 Mar. 1/2: They speak through their cousins, the pumpkin-heads in both Houses.
[US]H.E. Scudder Dwellers in Five-Sisters Court 87: ‘Pumpkin head!’ said the Doctor, more vigorously than politely .
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn 151: Ef we hadn’ [...] ben sich punkin-heads, as de sayin’ is, we’d a seed de raf’.
[UK]Worcs Chron. 6 June 6/6: That thar pumpkin-head’s bin telling a lot of lies.
[US]T. Hammond On Board a Whaler 111: Why, doggone y’r punkin head, lice is lice.
[UK]Essex Newsman 12 Sept. 1/5: He is a fat-headed — , and a pumpkin-head — , and he don’t know horse from a cow.
[US]N.Y. Tribune 4 June 29/1: He allowed that it would remind me that I was a punkin-head.
[US]J.C. Lincoln Shavings 232: ‘Can’t make a man out of a punkinhead,’ he asserted.
[US] A. Perkins ‘Maine Dialect’ AS V:2 119: A stupid individual was a ‘mutton head,’ ‘punkin head,’ ‘lunk head,’ or ‘dumber than a stump.’.
[US] R. Heffner ‘“Maine Dialect” in Ohio’ AS XIII:1 74: So and so is [...] a mutton head, a punkin head, a lunk head.
[UK]G. Lambert Inside Daisy Clover (1966) 14: Milton’s a pumpkin-head.

2. (also pumpkin pate) a person with an abnormally large head.

[US]J.C. Neal Charcoal Sketches (1865) 19: A little head waggles home with an immense castor, while a pumpkin pate sallies forth surmounted by a thimble.
[US]I. Shulman Good Deeds Must Be Punished 102: What’s eating you, baby-face? [...] What’s eating your little pumpkin head?
[US]T.C. Bambara ‘Raymond’s Run’ in Gorilla, My Love (1972) 25: Someone’s liable to [...] ask him where he got that great big pumpkin head.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[US]J. Lansdale Rumble Tumble 142: [to a midget] I’m just dyin’ to hit you again on the other side of your little punkin’ head.

3. as a term of address.

[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 111: Shoot, punkinhead, my Uncle Ben was Bad’s friend too.

4. see pumpkin n. (1b)