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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?
1. An interjection used as a warning for imminent danger or something that one needs to be aware of. "Heads up!" he shouted as the brick fell off the edge of the building. Heads up, the boss is looking for you and she looks angry!
2. noun A preliminary notice, especially of future difficulty, trouble, or danger; a warning. Often hyphenated. Make sure everyone gets the heads-up about the inspection tomorrow morning. We don't want anyone coming in unprepared. Hey, just a heads-up—the boss is in a foul mood, so don't do anything to attract attention to yourself! Just give me a heads-up if you need a ride.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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?
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Be in charge of, lead, as in She headed up the commission on conservation. [Colloquial; mid-1900s]
A warning to watch out for potential danger, as in Heads up, that tree is coming down now! The expression is generally in the form of an interjection. [c. 1940]
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.
Look out; a warning. This slangy interjection dates from the early 1900s. In the later 1900s, the noun heads-up was born with a similar meaning. Thus, “Heads up, John, that branch will hit the power line,” and “Before the book signing Jane gave him a heads-up that some very critical readers would be questioning him.” And James Lee Burke had it in The Glass Rainbow (2010): “‘What’s on your mind?’ ‘Need to give you a heads-up. I got to get some guilt off my conscience as well.’”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer