I meant to post this a while back but lost track of it; ah well, better late than never. Stan at Sentence first has a post featuring a question from John Cowan directed to native speakers of Hiberno-English: which would you use, and when, of the alternatives “the head of him,” “the head on him,” and “the head to him,” and when (if ever) do you hear them spoken by others? It’s been pretty well established in the thread there that the third (“to”) version doesn’t really exist, but the others are in common use, and the personal accounts are fascinating.

[Apologies to Stan and all who saw the original version of this post, in which the third alternative was “the head at him”; it’s been a long week, and I simply miscopied the sentence in my stupor.]


  1. In Scotland, if you said “he’s got a long head on him” you probably wouldn’t mean it literally but figuratively, meaning he’s a far-sighted chap, he can play the long game. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the “of” or “at” variants.

  2. Come to think of it, I’d expect a literal use to arise commonly as a simile: ‘he’s got a head on him like a beetroot’.

  3. If you are playing the long game and the ground game at the same time, does that mean you are passed out dead drunk?

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