High praise. It"s a metaphorical usage of head to typical what"s consisted of within -- brains and the an excellent sense to usage them.

You are watching: You have a good head on your shoulders meaning

Also heard:

You have actually a an excellent head on her shoulders. You have actually a an excellent head because that .

For example, native The Ponca Tribe by J. H. Howard:

he chiefs would appoint the leader. He to be selected from amongst the bravest warriors. He had actually to have actually a good head and also not to perform things rashly or rather the whole tribe would suffer.


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When someone states "you have a good head because that something" they median you have a natural capability to do something well.

It has actually the same an interpretation as "have a knack for something".

If you average someone shows intelligence and great judgement rather of a one-of-a-kind talent, usage clever or smart.


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Here room some cases where you could prefer this idiom end a single word, clever or smart.

If you desire to convey the "good judgment" part.If you desire to use good head for something (something specific).If the look and also feel (or sound) that an idiom expression appeals to you more than a one-word description does -- in the particular context.
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In 1978 I common the bandstand (on alto saxophone) with trombonist candid Rosolino in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He had actually just excellent a clinic (performing and teaching) in ~ a neighborhood high college or college, and also this to be a jam conference which complied with that. When I finished playing, he said to me, "You have a an excellent head." i was for this reason flabbergasted to get a compliment from one of the best jazz trombonists in the world, that i didn"t also ask that what the meant. More than likely the above description that "brains and the an excellent sense to use them" (when improvising) would certainly be the finest definition.

Sad to say, Frank"s life finished tragically later that year.


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