Linguistic Library (Mike Green)

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A glossary of linguistic terms, designed for A Level (UK) English Language Students.

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Head word

The head or head word of a phrase is the word around which the phrase is built, i.e. the main word that determines the core meaning of the whole phrase, e.g.

  • in the noun phrase the old-fashioned door, the head word is door
  • in the verb phrase, might have been hit the head word is hit.