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1. To escape; to vanish or disappear. (Not necessarily in a southerly direction.) Everyone in the gang headed south when they learned that the police had discovered their hideout.
2. To fall or drop; to depreciate; to lose quality or value. (Especially related to finances or stock exchanges.) The company's stock profile continued heading south for the third day in a row today. I used to be a big player in the stock market, but all my investments have headed south lately.
3. To cease working or functioning; to quit, fail, or fall apart. Talks between the labor union and the construction firm headed south yesterday, so it looks like workers will be on strike again soon. My computer is only a month old, and it's already heading south.
head for a fall
To take actions that will likely result in a problem or conflict, typically due to one's past behavior. With the way he keeps skipping school, he is definitely headed for a fall. Oh, Jennifer is heading for a fall—you can't start rumors about half the school without repercussions.
head for the hills
1. To move to higher ground, as in preparation for or response to a natural disaster. There are bound to be tsunamis after an earthquake like that. We'd better head for the hills!
2. To flee hastily; to clear out or depart quickly. You better head for the hills before mom comes home and sees what you did to her car. The bandits all headed for the hills when they heard the marshall was riding into town.
be heading for a fall
To be likely to suffer negative consequences in the near future, typically due to one's poor decisions or foolish behavior. With the way he keeps skipping school, he is definitely heading for a fall. Oh, Jennifer is heading for a fall—you can't start rumors about half the school without repercussions.
head off to (some place)
To leave for a particular place. Louise just headed off to the store, but you can probably still catch her, if you leave now.
1. To try to stop something from happening. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "head" and "off." I'm calling the editor now to head off this story before they print it.
2. To intercept or seize someone or something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "head" and "off." Can you head Mom off before she comes home and catches us having a party here?
3. To leave for a particular place. Louise just headed off to the store, but you can probably still catch her, if you leave now.
head the bill
To be the featured person in an event. Two professors from New York University are heading the bill at the conference on climate change this weekend. Up until now he's only been a supporting act, but he's going to head the bill for the first time next Saturday.
head for the setting sun
To travel west, in an attempt to elude law enforcement. (The sun sets to the west.) The cops are closing in on you—your best bet is to head for the setting sun.
head for the last roundup
old-fashioned To die. Primarily heard in US. When my grandmother was in her 80s, she always joked about heading to the last roundup. I think in some ways the fact that she treated it so light-heartedly made it easier to bear when she did finally pass away.
1. To leave some place; to depart. Attention, everyone: we're heading out at 10 AM. Mom is headed out for Sacramento tomorrow afternoon.
2. To move something away from something else. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "head" and "out." If everyone is buckled in, I'll head the car out.
1. Literally, to orient someone or something in the proper direction. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "head" and "up." Head up the animals, will you? We need to get them back into the barn.
2. To lead some group or delegation. Who will head up the committee for this initiative?
head for the hillsand take to the hills; run for the hills
1. Lit. to flee to higher ground. The river's rising. Head for the hills! Head for the hills! Here comes the flood!
2. Fig. to depart quickly. Here comes crazy Joe. Run for the hills. Everyone is heading for the hills because that boring Mr. Simpson is coming here again.
head for the last roundup
Euph. to reach the end of usefulness or of life. (Originally said of a dying cowboy.) This ballpoint pen is headed for the last roundup. I have to get another one. I am so weak. I think I'm headed for the last roundup.
head out (for something)
to set out for something or some place; to begin a journey to something or some place. We headed out for Denver very early in the morning. What time do we head out tomorrow morning?
head someone or something off
Fig. to intercept and divert someone or something. I think I can head her off before she reaches the police station. I hope we can head off trouble. We can head it off. Have no fear.
head something out
to aim something outward; to move something on its way, head or front first. Head the boat out and pull out the throttle. I headed out the car and we were on our way.
head something up
1. Lit. to get something pointed in the right direction. (Especially a herd of cattle or a group of covered wagons.) Head those wagons up—we're moving out. Head up the wagons!
2. Fig. to be in charge of something; to be the head of some organization. I was asked to head the new committee up for the first year. Will you head up the committee for me?
Block the progress or completion of; also, intercept. For example, They worked round the clock to head off the flu epidemic, or Try to head him off before he gets home. [First half of 1800s] This expression gave rise to head someone off at the pass, which in Western films meant "to block someone at a mountain pass." It then became a general colloquialism for intercepting someone, as in Jim is going to the boss's office-let's head him off at the pass.
1. Depart, begin a journey, as in The ship was heading out to sea, or When do you head out again?
2. head out after. Follow or pursue, as in Since they knew the way, we headed out after them, or A police car headed out after the car thieves.
Be in charge of, lead, as in She headed up the commission on conservation. [Colloquial; mid-1900s]
be heading for a fallor
be riding for a fall
If a person or an organization is heading for a fall or is riding for a fall, they are doing things that make them likely to have problems or to fail soon. The Tory Party is heading for a great fall. Here was a company that seemed to be riding for a fall. Now, it has become the sixth-biggest firm in the market. Note: You can also say that a person or organization is headed for a fall. There were some who wondered whether Black's vanity indicated that he was headed for a fall. Note: This expression was probably first used in fox-hunting to refer to someone who was riding dangerously.
If something heads south or goes south, it becomes less successful or falls to a lower level. At that point, the stock market headed south. Managers were selling shares in the certain knowledge that the company was going south.
head for (or take to) the hillsrun away; decamp.
2003 The Press (York) Marisa fears Marshall will head for the hills as soon as he discovers this elegant young woman's true identity.
2008 Newsweek Many months ago, McCain remarked, honestly, that he didn't know much about economics. As the economy heads south, he is routinely reminded of his candor.
1. To depart for some destination: She's heading off to New York City next week. He headed off for the mountains for his annual vacation.
2. To intercept or divert someone or something: Try to head them off before they get home. The sheriff headed off the gangsters at the pass.
3. To block the progress or completion of something: The town headed off the attempt to build another mall. The city council wanted to pass a restrictive zoning ordinance, but the mayor headed them off.
1. To depart for some destination: I'm heading out to the store, do you want anything?
2. To aim or point something outward: The teenager headed the car out of the driveway and sped off.
See go South
n. popping up and down in an office cubicle, looking at what’s going on in the rest of the office. (see also prairie dog.) Everybody was turtle heading, trying to see what was happening in Willy’s cubicle.