Heads up

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Heads up

Post by Archived Topic » Sun Apr 25, 2004 8:53 am

Where did the phrase "heads up" come from and why is being used alot at the moment? [Susan, UK]
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Heads up

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Apr 25, 2004 9:08 am

So many people are running around with their heads up anal orifice that it has attracted uncommon notice. *G*

11 Oct NullOne
Reply from Leif Thorvaldson (Eatonville - U.S.A.)
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Heads up

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Apr 25, 2004 9:22 am

Is it these people we might previously have described as 'burying their heads in the sand'?

If so, are people's necks getting generally longer, I wonder?
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
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Heads up

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Apr 25, 2004 9:37 am

The giraffe's neck became so long to reach for a seemingly out-of-reach branch high in an acacia tree. :-)
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From _The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms_ (1997) by Christine Ammer
heads up 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]
From _The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary_ (1999) by Paul Dickson
"heads up" interject. A command to stay alert.
heads-up adj. Alert and quick-thinking; e.g., "heads-up play" or "heads-up ball."
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Heads up, you guys! ... We ain't licked yet. (_Collier's, August 1914)
You played a great game all year -- smart, heads-up football. (_Knute Rockne_, film, 1940)
Jackie! Heads up! (ibid)
Frisch always played hard-driving, heads-up baseball. (F.G. Lieb, _Cardinals_, 1944)
October 17, 2001
Reply from Susumu Enomoto (Shiraokamachi - Japan)
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Heads up

Post by Archived Reply » Sun Apr 25, 2004 9:51 am

A possibility for the current (over)use of the term may have something to do with the preoccupation with military activity. Another common military term is HUD, the acronym for heads-up display. In aircraft, this is a projection of instrumentation readings, target acquisition information etc. onto the canopy, so the pilot doesn't have to look down during close quarter flights.
18-Oct-01
Reply from Ian Patrick (Ottawa - Canada)
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Re: Heads up

Post by tony h » Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:14 am

I was in a conversation today with a gentlemen nearing his 100th birthday. I used the phrase "heads-up" to mean "give him fair warning" and he made this comment. He said that his father used it and it came from the trenches in WWI. If you were not paying attention you might forget and put your head up. Which then made you a standing target.

So heads up was a sort of early warning of potential (personal) disaster, and advice to put your head down.
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: Heads up

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:08 am

The most plausible explanation I can think of is that the expression arose in the context of some person in authority directing a roomful of pupils or office workers to stop what they were doing and pay attention to the speaker with an instruction having the format, "Heads up: [Content of message / further instructions]". The transition from this scenario to the general usage of "heads up" to mean "I'm about to tell you something I think you should know" would be an easy one.

However, this is just a guess.
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Re: Heads up

Post by Shelley » Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:48 pm

Stagehands shout "HEADS!" when someone drops a hammer (or anything) from the catwalk (a grid way up high in the "fly space" above the stage). They also shout it when a piece of scenery starts to teeter, or if anything dangerous happens -- especially from above. "HEADS!" means immediately cover your head and brace yourself for possible disaster. The longer version would be "heads up!", but brevity is key in these cases, I guess.
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Re: Heads up

Post by Wizard of Oz » Wed Apr 01, 2015 1:57 am

.. interesting Shelley that when I was still playing Rugby we would, at training, call heads!! in the same manner as you describe .. however it meant in our case that somebody had kicked, or thrown, a football which stood the chance of hitting unaware players on the head ..

WoZ looking up, or ducking
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