come to a head


come to a head

Meaning | Synonyms

  • to reach a point in a situation where action needs to be taken
  • a culmination of events leading to a conclusion
  • come to a crucial point
  • to come to a point when a problem must be solved

Example Sentences

  1. The negative political climate in America seems to have come to a head.
  2. The investigation came to a head last week when my colleague was found guilty of fraud.
  3. The battle between the two factions of the city’s leading sport club came to a head today.


There are two possible origins for this phrase. Both dates back to the 1800s. In the first case the head refers to a head of lettuce. The farmer patiently waits for the leaves to come together to form a head of lettuce. This is the preferable story.

The other one is less palatable. It refers to a boil coming to a head and getting ready to burst. A boil is an infection that forms under the skin. A red lump starts to form and it slowly fills with white pus. After a few days the boil turns white and the pus is ready to come out.

The second story is most probably the origin of the phrase as boils were quite common in the 1800s. The phrase typically has a negative connotation, much like the skin abscess.

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