Here's the explanation of head out, and with 2 examples,

Attention, everyone: we're heading out at 10 AM.

Mom is headed out for Sacramento tomorrow afternoon.

I can't understand the 2nd, "be headed out". Something like you can say "I'm leaving" but can't say "I'm left". How do I understand "I'm headed out"?

  • The second example is syntactically invalid (but might occur in some non-standard "dialects"). It should be Mom is heading out for Sacramento. If you are heading [out] for [some place], that means you're travelling in that direction (with the obvious implication that that is your intended destination. But it's quite possible to say I'm heading out now (or off) without specifying a destination - that just means your "direction of travel" is away from here. Commented Feb 17, 2021 at 15:45

1 Answer 1


head out means to go off to a place, to leave for a place. To be headed out, yes. Because you head out [by car, by camel, on foot]. The implied agent makes a passive possible.

  • We're heading out tomorrow by car.
  • We are headed out now.

but head out is very much associated with sailing and maritime navigation in tall ships (old wooden sailing vessels) in expressions such as head out of the wind. The head of a ship is its prow (front). Hence, the verb: to head somewhere.

to head out of the wind means: to steer the ship away from the wind by trimming (setting) its sails in a particular way. It just means to go in the direction away from the wind.

Here is a very technical explanation for this from a specialized dictionary:

Box Off: In a square rigged ship, the act of hauling the head sheets to windward and laying the head-yards flat aback in order to bring the ship's head [PROW] out of the wind while tacking. This is done when helm action alone is insufficient.

nautical dictionary for tall ships

So, head out is used to mean that people are leaving one place going towards (heading) towards another: leave or go in the direction to some point ahead, geographically speaking.

  • head out to sea [go towards the open ocean]
  • head out to the office [leave for the office]
  • heading into work [going to work] etc.

Commonly, a direction in sailing is a heading: A northwest heading, a southwest heading

The verb usage is:

  • head up [if you are south of a place]
  • head down [if you are north of a place]
  • head south, north, east, west [obvious]
  • head out [to leave a place in the direction of another place].
  • head into or in to [a city or town, for example, or even a country]

Q: Where are you now Jim?
A: We're heading west on Route 90.

Q: Where are you now Jim?
A: We're heading out [leaving] now and should there arrive soon.

Q: Where are you going, Jim?
A: I'm headed into town for the afternoon.

to be headed somewhere= to be going in the direction of a place

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