What Does Bury Your Head in the Sand Mean?

Head in the Sand Meaning

Definition: Ignore an unpleasant fact; to remain willfully ignorant about a situation.

Origin of Head in the Sand

This expression first appeared in the 1800s. The idea behind it is that ostriches will sometimes put their heads in holes in the ground.

There is a mistaken belief that they do this in order to hide from predators. If this were truly the real reason, it would not work well. Although the ostrich could not see the predator, the predator could still see the ostrich. Therefore, burying one’s head in the sand is not an effective way of dealing with a problem.

In reality, ostriches put their head in the ground for other reasons. Nevertheless, this myth is still popular today. Likewise, this idiom is still quite popular.

Examples of Head in the Sand

bury your head in the sand idiomIn the below dialogue, one friend uses the idiom to tell her friend to confront his problems head on.

Ezekiel: Maggie, I’m not sure what to do. I don’t think I’m in love with my fiancée.

Maggie: That’s a pretty big problem.

Ezekiel: I know. But we already have our wedding planned. I guess I’ll just hope to love her again.

Maggie: I’m not sure that’s the best plan. You can’t just bury your head in the sand and ignore this problem.

Ezekiel: I don’t know what else to do!

Maggie: See a therapist as a couple. Talk to your fiancée about it. Break up. Do anything except ignore the problem!

Ezekiel: Okay. You’re probably right.

idiom bury your head in the sandHere is another example in which one friend uses the idiom to accuse another of ignorance.

Mila: Listen. We need to talk.

Tyrion: No, we don’t. Everything’s fine.

Mila: Everything is not fine. We’ve been fighting more and more. We need to dig down to the root of the problem if we want to fix this.

Tyrion: There’s no problem. Maybe you’re imagining it.

Mila: Maybe you’re imagining that there is no problem. Stop burying your head in the sand. We have to face this because it won’t go away otherwise.

More Examples

In this excerpt, a hockey player committed suicide. Some people think suicides among hockey players are related to stress.

Answers are often unavailable in suicide cases because there are often too many variables to consider. But Ewen is another in a growing list of NHL tough guys who have died prematurely.

“You can’t just bury your head in the sand and think there is not a connection,” said former NHL player Mathieu Schneider, who is a special assistant to NHL Players’ Association head Donald Fehr. –USA Today

This excerpt describes how a football player feels about not having a starting position on the team.

  • I think you can take a year like this two ways,” Hackenberg continued. “You can put your head down and say, ‘Oh I’m not playing,’ and kind of bury your head in the sand. Or you can say, ‘Alright, this could be a good thing if you go out and maximize the opportunities and the resources around you.’ So I’m trying to choose that path as much as I can.” –New York Daily News


The phrase bury one’s head in the sand describes the actions of a person who is unwilling to face a problem.