Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia.
Related to head off: head out
(one's) head off
Very intensely or loudly; with no restraint, hesitation, or inhibition. (Used after verbs associated with speech sounds, such as "yell," talk," "laugh," etc.) I'm telling you, Mark's boyfriend is hilarious! He had me laughing my head off when I met him. Suzy started yelling her head off when I told her she couldn't have an ice cream cone. A: "So, has Noah started saying any words yet?" B: "And then some—he's been talking his head off for months 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.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.