Bury one’s head in the sand

Bury one’s head in the sand is an idiom that has been in use at least since the 1800s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions that native speakers understand such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, chin up, eye to eye, barking up the wrong tree, hit the nail on the head, kick the bucket, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the idiom bury one’s head in the sand, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

To bury one’s head in the sand means to refuse to face a problem, to avoid confrontation, to ignore something that is unpleasant. Politicians are often accused of burying their heads in the sand. The idiom bury one’s head in the sand comes from the observation of ostriches. Ostriches are reputed to stick their heads in the sand when they are in danger. This is a myth. Ostriches do forage for food in the sand or turn their eggs in the sand, but they do not hide. Related phrases are buries one’s head in the sand, buried one’s head in the sand, burying one’s head in the sand.


“And one thing that I certainly am not is somebody who buries their head in the sand.” (Edinburgh News)

The process can be overwhelming and it’s tempting to bury your head in the sand. (The Reno Gazette Journal)

If you’re not feeling happy, not feeling yourself, don’t do what I did and bury your head in the sand for many sorrowful months! (The Isle of Man Today)

He said when interviewed about the matter, Culpin admitted he had buried his head in the sand and said he had done it out of “stupidity and greed”. (The Eastern Daily Press)

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