Heads Up

In a previous post I discussed how in English we use the ‘head’ and the ‘heart’ as metaphors to represent different ways of thinking. When we ‘use our head'’ we are thinking logically and rationally. When we ‘follow our heart’ we are making decisions based on our feelings. The head is one of the most common nouns we use in metaphors and idioms.

Read the short dialogue below. Two teachers (Andrew and Sadie) are discussing their students.

Try and understand the meaning of the ten idioms in bold. You can use a dictionary to help you.


A: Hey, Sadie. Just a heads up, the Principal is arriving next week to examine our paperwork.

S: Really? I didn’t know that! Thanks for the warning. Shall we quickly put our heads together and do the assessments of the students? Let’s start with Laura Jennings. What do you think of her performance?

A: Well, I’d have to say that she was a top student. She’s head and shoulders above the other students. Didn’t she score really highly in the last exam?

S: Um, I don’t have the scores with me, but off the top of my head, I think that’s right. I do remember she was head over heels when she got her score. She had a huge smile on her face and was jumping up and down in the classroom!

A: Ha, I’m happy for her. What about Peter Griffin? He seems to me to be a student who just keeps his head down and gets on with it. He’s a hard worker but he doesn’t like to show off.

S: Yes, I agree. He’s a solid student. I’m worried about Jessie Richards though, she seems to be in over her head. She’s performed poorly in the last few tests and she hasn’t been contributing much in tutorials lately.

A: I think she may be in love! She seems to have her head in the clouds most of the time and she’s not focusing on the lesson. I think she’s dreaming of her lover or something because she’s definitely not in the right headspace to study English.

S: Really? In love? I don’t know about that. I think that may be in all your head. I haven’t seen any evidence of that. I think you’re imagining it. Anyway, what day is the Principal turning up next week?

When you think you understand the meaning of the ten idioms, match them with their meanings in the test sheet below.


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