head vs headway what difference

what is difference between head and headway


Alternative forms

  • heed, hed (obsolete)
  • ‘ead (UK, eye dialect)


  • enPR: hĕd, IPA(key): /hɛd/
  • Rhymes: -ɛd

Etymology 1

From Middle English hed, heed, heved, heaved, from Old English hēafod (head; top; source, origin; chief, leader; capital), from Proto-Germanic *haubudą (head), from Proto-Indo-European *káput-.


head (countable and uncountable, plural heads or head)

  1. (countable) The part of the body of an animal or human which contains the brain, mouth, and main sense organs.
    1. (people) To do with heads.
      1. Mental or emotional aptitude or skill.
      2. (figuratively, metonymically) Mind; one’s own thoughts.
      3. A headache; especially one resulting from intoxication.
      4. A headdress; a covering for the head.
      5. (figuratively, metonymically) An individual person.
    2. (animals) To do with heads.
      1. (plural head, measure word for livestock and game) A single animal.
      2. The population of game.
      3. The antlers of a deer.
  2. (countable) The topmost, foremost, or leading part.
    1. The end of a table.
      1. The end of a rectangular table furthest from the entrance; traditionally considered a seat of honor.
      2. (billiards) The end of a pool table opposite the end where the balls have been racked.
    2. (countable) The principal operative part of a machine or tool.
      1. The end of a hammer, axe, golf club, or similar implement used for striking other objects.
      2. The end of a nail, screw, bolt, or similar fastener which is opposite the point; usually blunt and relatively wide.
      3. The sharp end of an arrow, spear, or pointer.
      4. (lacrosse) The top part of a lacrosse stick that holds the ball.
      5. (music) A drum head, the membrane which is hit to produce sound.
      6. A machine element which reads or writes electromagnetic signals to or from a storage medium.
      7. (computing) The part of a disk drive responsible for reading and writing data.
      8. (automotive) The cylinder head, a platform above the cylinders in an internal combustion engine, containing the valves and spark plugs.
    3. (uncountable, countable) The foam that forms on top of beer or other carbonated beverages.
    4. (engineering) The end cap of a cylindrically-shaped pressure vessel.
    5. (Britain, geology) Deposits near the top of a geological succession.
    6. (journalism) Short for headline.
      • 1968, Earl English, ‎Clarence Hach, Scholastic Journalism (page 166)
        The content of a headline over a news story should be taken from the lead of the story. [] The head should give the same impression as the body of the story.
    7. (medicine) The end of an abscess where pus collects.
    8. (music) The headstock of a guitar.
    9. (nautical) A leading component.
      1. The top edge of a sail.
      2. The bow of a vessel.
    10. (Britain) A headland.
  3. (social, countable, metonymically) A leader or expert.
    1. The place of honour, or of command; the most important or foremost position; the front.
    2. (metonymically) Leader; chief; mastermind.
    3. (metonymically) A headmaster or headmistress.
      • 1992 June 24, Edwina Currie, Diary:
        At 4pm, the phone went. It was The Sun: ‘We hear your daughter’s been expelled for cheating at her school exams…’

        She’d made a remark to a friend at the end of the German exam and had been pulled up for talking.

        As they left the exam room, she muttered that the teacher was a ‘twat’. He heard and flipped—a pretty stupid thing to do, knowing the kids were tired and tense after exams. Instead of dropping it, the teacher complained to the Head and Deb was carpeted.

    4. (music, slang, figuratively, metonymically) A person with an extensive knowledge of hip hop.
  4. A significant or important part.
    1. A beginning or end, a protuberance.
      1. The source of a river; the end of a lake where a river flows into it.
      2. A clump of seeds, leaves or flowers; a capitulum.
        1. An ear of wheat, barley, or other small cereal.
        2. The leafy top part of a tree.
      3. (anatomy) The rounded part of a bone fitting into a depression in another bone to form a ball-and-socket joint.
      4. (nautical) The toilet of a ship.
      5. (in the plural) Tiles laid at the eaves of a house.
        • 1875, Edward H. Knight, Knight’s American Mechanical Dictionary, vol. II, page 1086
          Heads. (Roofing.) Tiles which are laid at the eaves of a house
    2. A component.
      1. (jazz) The principal melody or theme of a piece.
      2. (linguistics) A morpheme that determines the category of a compound or the word that determines the syntactic type of the phrase of which it is a member.
  5. Headway; progress.
  6. Topic; subject.
  7. (only in the singular) Denouement; crisis.
    • 1712 October 18, anonymous letter in The Spectator, edited by Joseph Addison, no. 513, collected in The Works of the Late Right Honorable Joseph Addison, Esq, Birmingham: John Baskerville, published 1761, volume IV, page 10:
      The indiſpoſition which has long hung upon me, is at laſt grown to ſuch an head, that it muſt quickly make an end of me, or of itſelf.
  8. (fluid dynamics) Pressure and energy.
    1. (uncountable, countable) A buildup of fluid pressure, often quantified as pressure head.
      How much head do you have at the Glens Falls feeder dam?
    2. The difference in elevation between two points in a column of fluid, and the resulting pressure of the fluid at the lower point.
    3. More generally, energy in a mass of fluid divided by its weight.
  9. (slang, uncountable) Fellatio or cunnilingus; oral sex.
  10. (slang) The glans penis.
  11. (slang, countable) A heavy or habitual user of illicit drugs.
    • 1936, Lee Duncan, Over The Wall, Dutton
      Then I saw the more advanced narcotic addicts, who shot unbelievable doses of powerful heroin in the main line – the vein of their arms; the hysien users; chloroform sniffers, who belonged to the riff-raff element of the dope chippeys, who mingled freely with others of their kind; canned heat stiffs, paragoric hounds, laudanum fiends, and last but not least, the veronal heads.
    • 2005, Martin Torgoff, Can’t Find My Way Home, Simon & Schuster, page 177,
      The hutch now looks like a “Turkish bath,” and the heads have their arms around one another, passing the pipe and snapping their fingers as they sing Smokey Robinson’s “Tracks of My Tears” into the night.
  12. (obsolete) Power; armed force.
  • For quotations using this term, see Citations:head.
  • (part of the body): caput (anatomy); pate, noggin (slang), loaf (slang), nut (slang), noodle (slang), bonce (British slang)
  • (mental aptitude or talent): mind
  • (mental or emotional control): composure, poise
  • (topmost part of anything): top
  • (leader): boss, chief, leader
  • (headmaster, headmistress): headmaster m, headmistress f, principal (US)
  • (toilet of a ship): See Thesaurus:toilet and Thesaurus:bathroom
  • (top of a sail):
  • (foam on carbonated beverages):
  • (fellatio): blowjob, blow job, fellatio, oral sex
  • (end of tool used for striking):
  • (blunt end of fastener):
  • See also Thesaurus:head
  • (topmost part of anything): base, bottom, underside, foot, tail
  • (leader): subordinate, underling
  • (blunt end of fastener): point, sharp end, tip
Usage notes
  • To give something its head is to allow it to run freely. This is used for horses, and, sometimes, figuratively for vehicles.
Derived terms
  • Japanese: ヘッド (heddo)
  • Sranan Tongo: ede

See head/translations § Noun.


head (not comparable)

  1. Of, relating to, or intended for the head.


head (third-person singular simple present heads, present participle heading, simple past and past participle headed)

  1. (transitive) To be in command of. (See also head up.)
  2. (transitive) To come at the beginning of; to commence.
    A group of clowns headed the procession.
    The most important items headed the list.
  3. (transitive) To strike with the head; as in soccer, to head the ball
  4. (intransitive) To move in a specified direction.
  5. (fishing) To remove the head from a fish.
  6. (intransitive) To originate; to spring; to have its course, as a river.
    • 1775, James Adair, The History of the American Indians, page 223
      a broad purling river, that heads in the great blue ridge of mountains,
  7. (intransitive) To form a head.
  8. (transitive) To form a head to; to fit or furnish with a head.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Edmund Spenser to this entry?)
  9. (transitive) To cut off the top of; to lop off.
  10. (transitive, obsolete) To behead; to decapitate.
    • 1822, Allan Cunningham, “Ezra Peden”, in Traditional Tales of the English and Scottish Peasantry, v. 1, p. 37.
      I tell thee, man of God, the uncharitableness of the sect to which thou pertainest has thronged the land of punishment as much as those who headed, and hanged, and stabbed, and shot, and tortured.
  11. To go in front of.
  12. To get in the front of, so as to hinder or stop; to oppose.
  13. (by extension) To check or restrain.
  14. To set on the head.
Derived terms
Related terms
  • ahead
  • knucklehead
  • railhead
  • smackhead

Etymology 2

From Middle English hed, heved, heaved, hæfedd, from Old English hēafod- (principal, main, primary), from Proto-Germanic *haubuda-, *haubida-, from Proto-Indo-European *kauput-, *káput- (head). Compare Saterland Frisian hööft-, West Frisian haad-, Dutch hoofd-, German Low German höövd-, German haupt-.


head (not comparable)

  1. Foremost in rank or importance.
  2. Placed at the top or the front.
  3. Coming from in front.
  • (foremost in rank or importance): chief, principal
  • (placed at the top or the front): first, top
  • (coming from in front): tail


  • DHEA, ahed, hade




  1. inflection of hea:
    1. partitive singular
    2. plural



Partly from Middle English hauedwei, from Old English hēafodweġ (head-road, main-road), equivalent to head +‎ way; partly as a shortening of ahead-way, the source of the nautical sense.


headway (countable and uncountable, plural headways)

  1. Movement ahead or forward.
  2. (nautical) Forward motion, or its rate.
  3. (countable, transport) The interval of time or distance between the fronts of two vehicles (e.g. buses) moving in succession in the same direction, especially along the same pre-determined route.
  4. (uncountable, figuratively) Progress toward a goal.
  5. (countable) The clearance beneath an object, such as an arch, ceiling or bridge; headroom.
  6. (coal-mining) A cross-heading.

Derived terms

  • make headway


See also

  • seaway


  • “headway”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.

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