Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Mental activity or work; thought.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Mental or intellectual labour.
  • n. The use of logic and clear thinking to do something.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Mental labor.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Mental or intellectual labor.
  • n. In architecture, the heads and other ornaments on the keystone of an arch.
  • n. plural The group of artificial works or constructions at the head of an artificial canal or channel necessary to divert and regulate the flow of water from a river or other body of water into the canal.
  • n. plural A platform or raft with windlass or capstan which is attached to the front of a log-raft or boom of logs for warping, kedging. or winding it through lakes and still water, by hand or horse-power.

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From head +‎ work.

Examples

  • There can be no harm in drawing the attention of the mob to the fact that the classes above them work with their heads, for any kind of headwork is mortal anguish to the man in the street.

    Studies in Pessimism

  • Perhaps I need the movement implied in writing rather than headwork to make the architecture fully unfold.

    March 4th, 2008

  • It is true enough that we have had some rare intellectual specimens in the higher frames of boxing glory, but I can truthfully say that no man ever attained genuine boxing recognition without real headwork.

    Boing Boing

  • The Nurek headwork incorporates a unique rock-fill dam with a central core, 310 m in height, a power plant with a capacity of 2,700 megawatts (MW) and a reservoir with a capacity of 10.5 km3.

    Water profile of Tajikistan

  • I spent a lot of time on the back of the bike doing “headwork” and trying to sort out character motivations and worldbuilding.

    Help with listening and reading?

  • So, I feel that our plan and the headwork that we have done will provide the framework for the world to actually come in and help us solve this problem.

    CNN Transcript Jan 1, 2006

  • Ensign Neil ARMSTRONG of VF-51 saved his own life with a piece of exceptionally fast headwork.

    First Man

  • His wife was usually wrong when any headwork was required.

    The Golden Lion of Granpere

  • Our stone headwork had been built for two, so that the hilltop, a bald cone conspicuously opposite the working party, became suddenly and visibly populous.

    Seven Pillars of Wisdom

  • Save for an occasional habit of going raving or melancholy mad when educated for the ministry, and dying when he, and more particularly she, is shut up in the broiling hot, corrugated-iron school-room with too many clothes on, and too much headwork to do, he survives in a way which I think you will own is interesting, and which commands my admiration and respect.

    Travels in West Africa

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