rear one’s head: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘rear one's head’ mean?

The idiom "rear one's head" means to appear or become evident after a period of inactivity or hiding.

Idiom Explorer

Resurfacing Powerfully

The idiom "rear one's head" is a commonly used expression in the English language. It describes the sudden appearance or manifestation of something, often negative or undesirable. When an issue "rears its head," it means that it has emerged or become apparent, demanding attention and action. This idiom is frequently used in discussions about unexpected problems, conflicts, or challenges. It conveys a sense of surprise, urgency, and concern associated with the sudden appearance of a problem.

One related idiom is "bring up the rear." This phrase is commonly used to describe someone or something that is at the back or end of a line or group. It implies that the person or thing in question is the last in a series or sequence. When used in relation to "rear one's head," "bring up the rear" emphasizes the idea that the issue or problem is the final one to emerge or be addressed.

Another related idiom is "have eyes in the back of one's head." This expression is often used to describe someone who is exceptionally aware or observant, as if they possess the ability to see things happening behind them. When connected to "rear one's head," "have eyes in the back of one's head" underscores the idea that the emergence of the issue was unexpected or surprising, catching people off guard.

He turned to admire her stunning rear.

The idiom "in front of one's nose" is also relevant. It is used to describe something that is easily visible or accessible, as it is right in front of someone. When considering "rear one's head," this idiom suggests that the issue or problem was not clearly evident at first, but with time, it became impossible to ignore, much like an object in front of one's nose.

The idiomatic expression "hang over one's head" is another phrase related to "rear one's head." It conveys the idea of a problem, burden, or threat looming or lingering in one's thoughts or consciousness. When used alongside "rear one's head," "hang over one's head" emphasizes the persistent nature of the issue, indicating that it continues to be a concern even after its initial manifestation.

Finally, the idiom "keep one's head down" is pertinent to understanding the implications of "rear one's head." This expression suggests remaining quiet, inconspicuous, or avoiding attention in order to avoid trouble or conflict. When tied together with "rear one's head," "keep one's head down" highlights the need to address or confront the issue that has emerged, even if it is uncomfortable or challenging.

Overall, the idiom "rear one's head" describes the sudden appearance or manifestation of something, often negative or undesirable. It conveys a sense of surprise, urgency, and concern. When considering related idioms such as "bring up the rear," "have eyes in the back of one's head," "in front of one's nose," "hang over one's head," and "keep one's head down," it becomes apparent that "rear one's head" emphasizes the unexpected nature of the issue, the need to address it, and the persistence or prominence it assumes in a situation or conversation.

Example usage


  1. The issue of racial discrimination has rear its head again in our society, causing widespread outrage.
  2. After years of peace, tensions between the two neighboring countries have rear their head once more.
  3. Financial troubles can rear their head unexpectedly, causing a great deal of stress for individuals and businesses.

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