What Does Head Up Something Mean?

To Head Up Something Meaning

Definition: To lead something, or to be in charge of something.

Origin of Head Up Something

This expression is related to the body part. Just as the head directs the body, people use the verb head to mean to direct something. This usage dates back all the way to around 1200. By the 1930s, the phrasal verb head up had appeared.

Head up and head have the same meaning. The only difference is that phrasal verbs are more common in conversational English, or informal speech. Therefore head might occur more often in formal writing.

Head up has other definitions, such go up, as in head up the stairs and turn right to find the bathroom.

Heads up has other definitions yet, such as look out or stay alert. That said, to head up something can be conjugated as heads up, adding to the confusion between the phrases.

  • He heads up the task force on foreign relations.

Examples of Head Up Something

define head up something In the example below, two friends are discussing an interview that one of them has.

Ted: I think I’m finally ready for my interview tomorrow.

Rufio: Great! Do you know who heads up the department that you’re interested in?

Ted: Yes. I looked it up online. Someone named Steve Pie used to head up the department, but he recently left. Right now there is an interim department head named Susie Baker. I learned a little bit about them both from online records. I think some of the information might help me in the interview.

meaning of head up something This dialogue shows two friends talking together about the new job one of them just got.

Zayna: I’m so glad my first day at my new job is over!

Ben: How did it go?

Zayna: It went really well. I met the woman who heads up my department, and she was really supportive. Surprisingly, I’ll get to head up my own team as well!

Ben: Really?

Zayna: Yes! This company is really invested in helping new hires adjust to the company culture, so they hire people in groups. There are ten of us who just started today. I’m in charge of meeting with them once every week and bringing any group concerns to the head of the department.

Ben: That’s awesome! It’s cool that you have that responsibility already.

More Examples

The excerpt below uses the expression to describe the leader of a project.

  • The agency is also turning to academia and the private sector for help. Cardillo hired Anthony Vinci, the founder and former CEO of Findyr, a company that crowdsources data from countries around the world, to head up the agency’s machine-learning efforts within NGA. –Chicago Tribune

This excerpt is about a woman in charge of a new position.

  • Holloway was hired as the Chief Innovation Officer, a new, first-time position in the mayor’s office. She will head up a team of several other employees who will look at ways to innovate and generate new ideas for how to use technology to better the services at City Hall. –Chicago Tribune

Grammar and Usage

Head up is a transitive verb, which means it takes a direct object.

Correct: She will head up the company.

Incorrect: She will head up.

Usually people do not separate head and up, although it is possible to find a few rare examples of head it up.


The phrase to head up something means to be the boss of something like a department or organization.