Heads Up – Meaning, Origin


The idiom heads up is used as a warning to help others become more aware of something.

Example: If you are going out walking later today, let me give you a heads up of something I saw on my drive home. There was a large dog walking around nearby without a leash, so maybe wait until tomorrow.
Synonyms / Related Sayings:
1. Keep your eyes peeled
2. Be on your toes
3. Be on the lookout

The Origin Of ‘Heads Up’

The origin of this phrase is unclear. The earliest I could find it in print is from the early 20th century. For example, the quote below is from the Daily Express newspaper, 1910, and it says:

“Attention! Eyes Front! Heads Up! Listen! You’ll thank us for calling your attention to these 50×163 foot lots. Every improvement: not some.”

In addition, this phrase was a term used in sports. It is defined in the following example that comes from The Washington Post newspaper, 1914:

“‘Heads Up,’ a baseball and football term signifying alertness, action…”

So this expression is at least 110 years old.

Example Sentences

  • Jim’s car window was rolled down and rainy weather was on its way! Hence, his neighbor advised him: “Just a heads up, but I think it’s gonna rain soon, so you might want to roll up your car door’s window.”

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