turn someone’s head: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘turn someone's head’ mean?

The idiom "turn someone's head" means to make someone feel important or attractive, often leading to a change in behavior or attitude. It can also refer to causing someone to become infatuated or obsessed with someone or something.

Idiom Explorer

Unraveling Origins: A Bewitching Head-Turner

The idiom "turn someone's head" is a common phrase used in the English language. It is widely known and appears frequently in various contexts. Here are the facts about this idiom:

1. Meaning: To cause someone to become infatuated, flattered, or lose their focus due to admiration or attention.

2. Origin: Can be traced back to the 16th century, with "turn" meaning diverting or changing direction, and "head" symbolizing the mind or attention of a person.

3. Usage: Often used figuratively to describe emotional or psychological impact, such as in romantic relationships, personal achievements, or external influences.

4. Common Contexts: Frequently used in discussions related to love, attraction, success, fame, or admiration.

With these facts in mind, let us delve into a deeper analysis of this idiom and its relation to the idioms "turn heads" and "turn on its head."

The idiom "turn someone's head" signifies the influence or impact that something or someone has on an individual's thoughts, emotions, or attention. The phrase suggests a sudden change in perspective or focus, often due to admiration, flattery, or infatuation. This resonates with the metaphorical element of the English language.

In contrast, the idiom "turn heads" refers to attracting attention or causing people to look or take notice. It implies grabbing the spotlight or standing out in a crowd. While "turn someone's head" focuses on the individual affected, "turn heads" emphasizes the reaction or response of others.

Similarly, the idiom "turn on its head" conveys the idea of completely reversing or upending a situation or concept. It suggests a radical change or transformation, often challenging conventional wisdom or expectations. Unlike "turn someone's head," which relates to personal impact, "turn on its head" relates to a broader shift or inversion.

Originating in the 16th century, "turn someone's head" draws on the notion of diverting or changing the course of someone's thinking or attention. The use of the word "turn" reflects the act of redirecting, altering, or guiding, while "head" symbolizes the mind or attention of an individual. By combining these elements, the idiom vividly portrays a sudden shift in one's mental or emotional state.

The idiom is versatile and finds application in various contexts. It is commonly used in conversations related to love and attraction, highlighting the effect an individual or situation has on capturing someone's interest or affection. For example, a charismatic person may "turn someone's head," captivating their attention and sparking feelings of infatuation.

The idiom is also relevant in discussions surrounding personal achievements or success. It emphasizes the impact of accolades or recognition, which can shift one's mindset or behavior. For instance, if someone receives a prestigious award or attains a significant accomplishment, it might "turn their head" and lead to a change in their outlook or priorities.

"turn someone's head" can be used when referring to external influences, such as fame or fortune. These external factors can redirect one's attention or alter their perspective. If someone suddenly becomes famous or gains wealth, it may "turn their head" and result in a change in their behavior or priorities.

In contrast to "turn someone's head," the idiom "turn heads" emphasizes the reaction or response of others. It suggests attracting attention or causing people to look or take notice. For example, if someone wears an extravagant outfit to a party, it may "turn heads," drawing attention and admiration from those around them.

The idiom "turn on its head" signifies a complete reversal or upending of a situation or concept. It implies challenging conventional wisdom or expectations and suggesting a radical change or transformation. For instance, if there is a long-standing tradition that has been followed for years, and someone comes along and completely changes it, they have "turned it on its head."

The idiom "turn someone's head" encapsulates a profound depth of meaning within its concise formulation. Its origin in the 16th century, coupled with its figurative representation, allows for a rich understanding of the phrase's significance. The idiom's usage in various contexts highlights its versatility and enduring relevance in the English language. As we explore this idiom, we uncover not only its physical manifestations but also the intricate workings of the human mind and emotions that it represents.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom *turn someone's head* can be used in a sentence:

  • Winning the lottery can turn someone's head and make them act irresponsibly with their newfound wealth.
  • The fame and attention from his recent success turned his head, causing him to become self-absorbed and arrogant.
  • She was flattered by the compliments and attention from her admirers, but it didn't turn her head – she remained down-to-earth and humble.

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