Heads Up – Meaning, Origin


Heads up” is an idiom that’s used as a warning to help others become more aware of something.

Example: Are you going for a walk today, Liam? If so, let me give you a heads up of something I saw on my drive home: There was a large dog walking around our neighborhood and it didn’t have a leash, so be careful.

1. A word of caution

(In terms of “being aware; alert”):
2. Keep your eyes peeled
3. Be on your toes

The Origin Of “Heads Up”

The origin of this phrase is unclear. The earliest I could find the expression “heads up” 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.”

This phrase was also a term used in sports. Its definition is given in the following example that comes from The Washington Post newspaper, 1914:

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

In short, this expression is at least 110 years old.

Example Sentences

  • I called my brother and said, “Hey, heads up: There is supposed to be a powerful storm hitting sometime tomorrow, so the power to the house might go off.”

Similar Example:

  • I gave my friend a word of caution and told him not to clean the inside of his computer with a vacuum hose; the static electricity from it could damage his PC.

Tip: Do you want to read about more expressions like this one? Well, let me give you a heads up—Know Your Phrase has hundreds of phrases to explore! To find them, all you have to do is use the menu at the top. After choosing a letter, you’ll be taken to a list of sayings that start with whatever letter you chose.