When we see someone in such a rush to do something or in such a hurry to say something like good/bad news and they act all weird moving or talking fast and loud we say

'Have you brought a head?!'

'Look at him. Looks like he's brought a head.'

I think it refers to the wars in past where after defeating the enemy's army, they would cut off the enemy's leader's head and send it to the king by a soldier. The soldier rode his horse fast to the palace not wasting a second. Entering the palace, he loudly shouted the news while he was out of breath or talking fast.

What would be the best equivalent for this in English? Any idioms or idiomatic expressions?

  • In what language do you have this idiom? It's fascinating. Jun 14, 2017 at 19:21
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    If someone seems frantic and out-of-breath, they can be asked to calm down and stop acting "like a chicken with its head cut off". But only if the issue doesn't seem truly urgent or alarming.
    – TimR
    Jun 14, 2017 at 19:24
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    @G Tony Jacobs My mom's Persian. She once asked me this humorously, 'OK Mr. English, what's [the idiom] in English?' Then I asked where it came from and she told me all these stories from history. :-)
    – Yuri
    Jun 14, 2017 at 19:26
  • Since America's founding, there hasn't been a lot of head removal (or kings who would want one). Cats do sometimes bring their owner a bird's head as a present, but English is wasted on them (for pretty much any purpose). Maybe if there are some English-speaking ISIS members, they could weigh in.
    – fixer1234
    Jun 14, 2017 at 20:27
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    @fixer1234 Yea, it wasn't just the US. Head removal has been long gone even before Columbus set foot in America. But you need to consider the fact that sometimes what's in there in a language isn't necessarily part of the practice of a particular culture. Take 'caught red-handed' in English for an instance. No one nowadays is found guilty that way! (The first person having blood on his hand is the culprit)
    – Yuri
    Jun 14, 2017 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


One possible English idiom for asking someone why they are in such a rush to do something would be Where's the fire?

What's the big hurry, as in "We've got to finish up.—Why, where's the fire?"

This phrase, generally addressed to someone in an unseemly rush (such as a speeding motorist pulled over by a police officer), alludes to firemen hurrying to put out a fire.

from "where's the fire". The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Houghton Mifflin Company. 14 Jun. 2017. Dictionary.com

  • Interesting +1 Ive never heard of that one. Just one thing, it has to be 'you' as the addressee? can I say for example, "look at him. Where's the fire? hah!"
    – Yuri
    Jun 14, 2017 at 19:34
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    Yes, using it to refer to someone outside the conversation is fine; I would say your example is perfectly acceptable.
    – Hellion
    Jun 14, 2017 at 19:43
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    "Alright buddy, Where's the fire?" -- something a snarky highway patrolman in a 1950s or 1960s TV show would ask a motorist whom he had just stopped for speeding. Jun 15, 2017 at 3:18

An older variation is "What's all the hubbub, bub?", where "hubbub" is "a loud noise or disturbance" and "bub" is an informal term of address roughly equivalent to "guy".

It's not much used nowadays, but I expect you can still get away with it.

(The Bugs Bunny cartoon is from 1943 and contains many references that would have been funny in WW2, which are now very dated, but still interesting).

  • @Yuri actually Bugs is just using what I imagine was a popular vernacular at the time. I don't think the writers of the cartoon created it. Although his trademark greeting, "What's up, doc?" might have been (more or less) original.
    – Andrew
    Jun 15, 2017 at 5:53

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