Where the heads at?

Will someone please clarify for me the term ‘heady’? I was first introduced to this new and unusual word when I was a freshman here in Vermont. I must say, I was very intrigued when I heard many of my fellow colleagues throw the word around regarding everything from clothes, to beer, to places, and to people.

The first explanation for the word came from a kid who claimed it meant ‘good for your head’. Given the context of the situation, I can vouch that what he was talking about was not really good for your head.

I asked my housemate Simon Abramson what came to mind when he thought of the word. He said, “I think of people…with like dreadlocks, hemp necklace, patchwork pants.” Okay, from that information I would ascertain that ‘heady’ was a term for the new school of hippies. Since the term ‘hippy’ has seemed to be out of fashion recently.

‘Hippy’ seems to hold somewhat of a negative connotation while the term ‘heady’ is commendable. ‘Heady’ is something that you want to strive for, or so it seems.

When regarding substances, ‘heady’ is used synonymously with terms such as top of the line, high-grade, dank, and primo. So, does that mean that a heady person is good quality, maybe?

I wanted to know why I’d never heard the word until I came to Vermont, is it regional? I asked some friends in Boston and in Santa Cruz what their explanation of the word was and they had never heard of it.

I always thought that ‘heady’ was just a slang word that college kids used, like ‘dope’ or ‘gnarly’ or ‘swell’. But I was wrong, dead wrong, and this new realization rocked my world. I heard one of my professors referring to Johann Sebastian Bach’s music as being ‘heady’. This was weird firstly, because my professor is like 50 and secondly because Bach isn’t heady, or at least not in the way that I’d learn to use the word.

What my professor was trying to say is that Bach’s music is brainy and complex, two things that aren’t really cool. But, ‘heady’ must be a legitimate word if a professor from a scholarly institution such as ours uses it. So I did some research and found the word in a dictionary. Here’s what I found:

headáy ()adj. headáiáer, headáiáest

1. a. Intoxicating or stupefying: heady liqueur. b. Tending to upset the mind or the balance of senses: standing on a heady outcrop of rock. c. Serving to exhilarate: the heady news of triumph.

2. a. Impetuous and rash: a heady outburst of anger. b. Domineering; overbearing: too heady to reason with.

3. Swift and violent; headlong: a heady current.

4. Showing intelligence and good judgment; prudent: heady tactics.

5. Suffering from a headache: a heady, throbbing feeling.

This only left me more confused than before. Personally, I think definition 1.a, intoxicating and stupefying, is the best one. People can be intoxicating and stupefying. This is the definition that I learned was used in Homer’s The Odyssey when Odysseus drank the heady wine.

I think Carrie Goodman sums it up best, “I think everyone has there own meaning for ‘heady’.” That’s true, but that is what is so funny about it. Because we got a whole bunch of kids running around saying the word and everyone’s got a different idea for what it means. Talk about a lack of communication.