I heard something from one of the candidates on election day:

I intend to address these challenges head-on.

What does this mean?

Specifically, I’m not sure what it means to address something head-on.

  • 3
    We could give you a paraphrase, but that wouldn't help you learn much about English. If you could tell us which parts give you trouble, we can address your question head-on instead of having to smother it with details you already understand. Oct 13 '14 at 0:58
  • @StoneyB if you can, would you like suggestion the book of paraphrase? Also please do feel free, let me k ow what is the good way to learn English on especially paraphrase.
    – Carter
    Oct 13 '14 at 1:32
  • 1
    Please write more about how you understand the statement. Which parts of it are clear? Which parts of the sentence confuse you? Are there particular words that seem to be used in a strange new way? Are you wondering about the meaning of “head-on”? There’s a lot going on even in a little sentence like this one, so we need you to be more specific. Oct 13 '14 at 1:54
  • I have some confusion about this expression "Address ~ head-on"
    – Carter
    Oct 13 '14 at 2:18
  • 1
    @TylerJamesYoung Not cruelly intended - my (very good) HS French teacher always responded to question about idiom by reusing the idiom in a different context. It's sort of linguistic triangulation. Oct 13 '14 at 2:52

This is the sense of “address” your quotation employs:


transitive verb

  1. a : to direct the efforts or attention of (oneself)
    [he] will address [. . .] the problem

    b : to deal with : treat
    [he was] intrigued by the chance to address important issues

Source: Merriam-Webster definition of “address”

Applying this to the rest of the quotation, we can say this candidate intends to direct his own efforts and/or attention to some aforementioned challenges in some way.

To learn how he’ll be dealing with these challenges, we need to know what he meant by “head-on”.



in a very direct way

Source: Merriam-Webster definition of “head-on”

Adding that together, we can say he is claiming he will attend to these challenges in a direct way; he won’t delay, delegate, or ignore these issues, but instead attack them with full focus and immediacy.

  • The above definitions are correct, however, also be aware that when someone states that, it usually means they have no intention of doing anything about the issue....
    – user24344
    Sep 17 '15 at 17:43
  • @Robert: Cynicism about politics, however well-founded it may be, is not likely to be helpful to someone learning the meaning of specific terms in English. OP: There's nothing about these terms themselves that indicates a lack of intention on the speaker's part. As with anything, you'll have to decide from context whether you believe someone. Sep 29 '15 at 0:18

To "address (something) head on" means to take direct action to improve a situation. Politicians often use this phrase to mean that they are not hiding from difficult issues (challenges) and will take direct action on the matter.

This website has a nice detailed answer for that exact phrase: http://www.phrasemix.com/examples/i-intend-to-address-these-challenges-head-on

  • @Thanks Aardvark. I just have seen yet. But it seems to need more extra expression.
    – Carter
    Oct 13 '14 at 3:02

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