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Heads up

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 14, 2007

In Reply to: Heads up posted by Marie-Ann on July 14, 2007

: Heads up: seems to be a circus related saying. In the film "trapeze" Burt Lancaster warns the acts rehearsing in the Big Top - "Heads UP!" to watch Tony Curtis try and perform triple on the trapeze.

"Heads up" has more than one meaning, all of them related to keeping one's head up. In the case of Burt Lancaster in Trapeze, he's saying, "Look up! Watch!"

In British usage it can refer to a posture of alertness, sometimes with a touch of stoicism. Even if things are bad, keep your heads up and look smart. Chin up!

It also means, "Look out!" There is or could be something coming your way. Although it is used often in a military context, for obvious reasons, it has been used in this sense for a variety of situations where you need to be attentive lest you be harmed by something hitting you. In a sport situation, it can be used to mean, say, "Be alert in case a ball may be coming towards you."

The phrase has recently come into wide use as a noun, with the meaning of an alert, or a warning to be alert. "I gave him a heads-up as to what the boss seems to be up to."

See also: the meaning and origin of 'Heads up'.