Idioms: Body Parts – Head and Shoulders

Here is today’s dose of idioms in English!

The following five idioms are all about your head and shoulders, starting a series on Body Part Idioms. In the following posts, you will get more idioms talking about the rest of the body. 

hair downLet your hair down

This means to be more informal and comfortable or to have some fun and relax. Imagining a woman loosening a fancy hair style to be more comfortable after the party is over.

ExampleAfter the long hard day of work, the coworkers went out to the pub to let their hair down for a while.

Go over your head

This idiom has two meanings: (1) you did not understand something, or (2) someone is talking to a person with more authority than you because they think you won’t give them what they want.

(1) Look at Larry’s face! That joke just went right over his head! He doesn’t get it at all!
(2) I can’t believe that he went over my head and talked to my boss about his dumb project idea. I already told him it won’t work!

Off the top of (your) head

This means that you do or say something without giving it much thought or preparation. It is the first reaction you have to a question.

Todd – Hey, Bob. Do you know how many people are going to the company party?
Bob – Oh, geez, I don’t know. Off the top of my head, I would say maybe fifty. It could be more, though.

Have your head in the clouds

This means to be daydreaming or not focusing on the task you are doing.

Boss – Hey, Frank! Get your head out of the clouds and get to work!
Frank – I don’t have my head in the clouds, sir. I was just trying to think of a good solution for this problem…


carry the worldTo have (or carry) the world on your shoulders

This means to have a lot of problems or responsibilities that are troubling you.

The idiom comes from the story of Atlas who was punished by Zeus in Greek mythology to hold the weight of the heavens on his shoulders.

“And any time you feel the pain, hey, Jude, refrain. Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders.” – Hey Jude by the Beatles  
Between having to care for his sick mother and his three small children alone, he felt he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.


Questions? Ask me! Or sign up for a class with me to learn more idioms in English!