Heads Up Meaning Explained

Heads-up meaning is a little beyond what you know it to be.

It’s a little more than those two words your boss has to say before giving a piece of important information.

The primary heads up meaning is exciting and has many synonyms, which will be explained in this article.

In this article, you will understand what this two-word phrase means and how to correctly apply them for better communication and public speaking.

Top Six Heads Up Meaning

  1. Heads up is an informative phrase used to notify someone about something. For example, Joseph Ross Gave me a heads-up on the new security measures.
  2. Heads up is a way of showing an alert or describing a competent style. For example, we’ve been asked to play heads-up basketball in this game.
  3. Headsup is said as a way of providing notice to alert someone in advance of impending danger, difficulty, or trouble. For example, heads up, the cops will be waiting at the next turn.
  4. Heads up mean to keep the head directly above the neck and eyes front in a combat fashion. For example, Desmond kept a heads-up look on his face as he advanced toward the Principal’s office.
  5. Heads up is a phrase people say with additional energy to get the attention of others. For example, Heads up, everyone! We have a new mum.
  6. Heads-up is a code word to alert someone who doesn’t have a visual of the current situation. An example of a heads up is when you let your Internet-surfing co-worker know that your boss is about to enter his office by saying “heads up.”

What is the Origin of Heads Up

There is no verified information about the origin of the phrases, and nobody is really sure where this phrase sprung up from.

According to one proposition, a person who is awake and alert has his head up to ensure that he can see what is happening around him.

Someone who feels sleepy or tired, on the other hand, keeps dropping his head.

This explanation of the heads-up meaning is literal and looks at the words from their individual makeup.

According to another hypothesis, the expression ‘heads up’ was used in the 19th century and meant ‘straighten up’ or ‘keep your head up.

Some believe that the modern use of the expression comes from the ‘heads-up display screen‘ in aircraft that give pilots vital information about the current state of their plane and necessary adjustments.

In the past, since the screen was installed close to the windshield, the pilot could monitor the readings without taking his eyes off the flight path. He was able to do both, provided he had his head up.

Wall street journal believes heads up meaning is associated with the military and baseball. This is suggestive of the fact that the phrase has its origin in military camps and summer baseball camps.

A group of literary enthusiasts believes that the heads-up phrase was first used in its original sense in the English novelist Maria Edgeworth’s short play The Knapsack (1801):

“They marched, and I amongst them, to face the enemy – heads up – step firm – thus it was – quick time – march!”


As early as the 20th century, the expression has been used in the United States as an adjectival phrase that means alert or in the know.

The expression is argued to be a literary one: this is because, while a wide-awake alert person holds his head erect rather than falling asleep and nodding, heads up does not only mean to be wide awake.

Now, on to your question about the current use of “heads up” as a noun meaning a warning. This, it turns out, is of much more recent vintage.

In 1979, the Washington Post used the longer phrase “heads-up alert” to describe a warning by intelligence officials about wrong diplomatic contacts.

Is ‘Heads Up’ Too Informal?

Heads-up is considered informal and isn’t suitable for formal writings like essays and application letters.

But, you can use the phrase in a speech context or write to people who understand the head-up phrase’s meaning.

So yes, heads up is informal and should be replaced with other formal phrases in formal writings.

Synonyms of “Heads Up”

The following words can be used to replace “heads up” in different contexts. Auguring, prognostication, forecasting, foretelling, predicting, prediction, premonition, presaging, prognosticating, prophecy, prophesying,

Appraising, informing, notification, notifying, tip-off, advice, counsel, guidance,  recommendation,  suggestion, announcement, declaration, etc.


We have carefully explained every heads up meaning in this article, in the most straightforward words and in ways that can be easily understood.

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