Someone who has a lot of hair on their head is said to have a full head of hair. The order of the words, I must admit, struck me as strange when I first saw the phrase (just as a full man of pride would be strange). If I said

Jack has a head full of hair.

Would that be equally correct?


A man with a full head of hair. That is an idiom meaning the man has no hair loss.

A woman with a full basket of supplies. This isn't. It's just descriptive, and contrasts with the more usual usage: with a basket full of supplies.

Generally, the full modifies a noun and the second noun is genitive.

A politician with a full bag of tricks. [though bag full of tricks is also said]. This would be a politician who knows all the tricks, so to speak.

Now, a man with a head full of hair cannot be criticized for not being grammatical but due to the idiomatic usage given above re head and hair, it is comical.

Why is this comical? Because we also have:

A child with a head full of lice;

A man with a head full of ideas.

To have a head full of something is idiomatic, in general. But, in the case of having all one's hair, we do say: a full head of hair. English is quirky that way.

So, if you hear: a man with a head full of hair, you automatically would think: Oh, so he isn't a man with a head full of [something else, like ideas etc.] and that expectation makes it funny.

  • If I heard someone say that a person had a "head full of hair", I would first imagine that they meant that the person's skull was stuffed full of hair in place of brain matter, blood vessels, etc, and then I would decide that they really meant "full head of hair". When I was young, cushions and seats were often stuffed with horsehair. – Michael Harvey Nov 27 '18 at 17:19
  • @MichaelHarvey Precisely, and that would be comical. Like the poor Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz whose head was stuffed with straw and whose ardent wish was get himself a real brain. – Lambie Nov 27 '18 at 17:24
  • I suppose it depends on what you think is "comical". – Michael Harvey Nov 27 '18 at 17:50
  • @MichaelHarvey A good sense of humor is nice, and to funny things may entice, but some are just full of things hairy and prefer to be really all scary. – Lambie Nov 27 '18 at 18:12

The head is a complicated thing. It is a container. It is a surface. And especially if it has hair, it is an ecosystem.

Jack has a head full of ideas.

Jack has a head full of lice.

Jack has a full head of hair.

A "head full of hair" would be understood, but it's not the usual collocation.

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