What does the idiom "come to a head" mean?

The expression come to a head is one of the idioms that often finds a place in our literature and enriches our language. However, its meaning is not fully understood, so it is sometimes used in the wrong situations. Please review the explanation carefully for the correct use of the come to a head idiom.

Meaning of "come to a head"


The expression “to come to a head” means that a situation is reaching its climax. It implies that the tension and emotions surrounding a situation have built up to their closest point and can no longer be contained. It often means that a solution to the problem is near.


The phrase “to come to a head” originated in the 15th century and is believed to have originated in England. It originated from the same root as the expression “to come head to head”, which means to go head to head in a disagreement or debate. Over time, the phrase developed to mean a situation reaching a peak before a resolution.


The phrase “to come to a head” is often used to describe situations where tension and emotions have built up over a period of time. It is often used to describe a situation that cannot be resolved until it reaches its peak or crest. For example, a trade dispute between two countries can be said to have “come to a head” when the sides are negotiating their final terms. It can also be used to describe a situation when emotions and tensions reach a high point before a resolution is reached. For example, a family argument can be said to have “come to a head” when the family members reach an understanding and are able to move on.

Example Sentences

  • The conflict between the two countries had been brewing for months, but it finally came to a head when the leaders met to negotiate a resolution.
  • The disagreement between the siblings had been escalating for days, and it finally came to a head when they decided to talk it out.
  • The tension between the two political parties had been escalating for weeks, and it finally came to a head when they had to vote on the issue.

The meanings of the words in the "come to a head" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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