Today we’re looking at verbal collocations with head. As usual, all information is retrieved from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA – The table below shows the 20 most frequent verbs that collocate with our search word, head:

1  SHOOK 16204
2  SHAKES 3777
3  SHAKING 3414
4  TURNED 1657
5  WAS 1200
6  IS 1188
7  PUT 958
8  SHAKE 953
9  TILTED 863
10  COCKED 800
11  RAISED 769
12  LIFTED 759
13  ‘S 686
14  KEEP 660
15  NODDED 614
16  TURN 608
17  HAD 574
18  LOWERED 521
19  BOWED 517


As you can see from the table above, the most common verb that co-occurs with head is to shake in four different forms: shook, shakes, shaking and shake.

  • I don’t answer. Instead, I sit on my bed, shaking my head slowly from side to side.
  • I made a move to stand, but Camilla shook her head.
  • She was shaking her head before he even finished.




Among the other verbs, some are very easy to understand and translate literally into Portuguese, ‘virar’:

  • She turned her head, looked me directly in the eye, and said, ” Huh? “
  • She turned her head, her gaze once more seeking the piano.


Raise and lift denote the same movement of the head. Both translate as ‘levantar’ in Portuguese:


  • Wyatt raised his head high enough to look between the balusters and see the top of the tower.
  • At this, his father raised his head from the paper.
  • She opened her eyes, raised her head and stood up.


  • His father lifted his head to glance at Owen, then returned to the paper.
  • Ciran lifted his head to look at her one last time.








The opposite of this movement is to lower, ‘abaixar’ in Portuguese:

  • Seraphina struck her chest in salute and lowered her head.
  • He lowered his head and fumbled with his bag until the person was gone.
  • Stella lowered her head to hide her resentment.

The same movement, when in a more religious context, is expressed as to bow:

  • On Sunday he bowed his head in the Presbyterian church, but his real religion was Progress.
  • She dropped to her knees, bowed her head, closed her eyes, gently placed her fingertips atop Gratz’s head and prayed.
  • She bowed her head and released a sigh.



But some verbs are very peculiar to English. To cock and to tilt one’s head are synonyms. Both could probably be translated as ‘inclinar’.

  • All eyes turned toward Robert, who tilted his head
  • Inhaling deeply, he closed his eyes and tilted his head back slightly.
  • Katie tilted her head until her baby-fine blond hair fell forward and curtained her face.


  • She cocked her head to the side.
  • She cocked her head, pulled a frown, stuck out her bottom lip.
  • Hank cocked his head and nodded, conceding the point.








The next one, to nod, denotes an upward and downward movement of the head:

  • He smiled and nodded his head in agreement.
  • She nodded her head for emphasis.
  • The horse, recognizing its name and Matt, nodded its head in appreciation of the friendly and familiar contact.


However, this verb is most often used without the noun head because it alone already refers to a head movement and usually denotes agreement:

  • “A good friend.” He nodded. “As good a friend as a loner like you permits herself.”
  • “Is this correct?” # “Brooksyn?” # She nodded. # “Then, yes. That’s the address we verified.”


And the last one on our list is to stick, which occurs in its past form. Depending on the context, it could be translated as ‘por’, ‘colocar’ or even ‘enfiar’, as in the illustration of the tiger, which stuck its head into a pan.

  • Kate stuck her head into the wagon.
  • She stuck her head inside the door.
  • The driver’s window came down, and Herbie stuck his head








Now, just watch out so you don’t stick your head where you shouldn’t!

See you soon again!