A headbutt is a strike with the head, typically involving the use of robust parts of the cranium as areas of impact. Effective headbutting revolves around striking a sensitive area with a less sensitive area, such as striking the nose of an opponent with the forehead. It is known as a risky maneuver: a misplaced headbutt can cause more damage to the person delivering the headbutt than to the person receiving it.


From French "boter" = "to push or strike". Rams are well known for butting with their heads and horns. From this the terms battering ram and hydraulic ram are derived. Many males in various animal species employ butting during courtship.


Headbutts can be used from close range such as from the clinch, or on the ground. They are typically applied to the head of the opponent, since the head is often a readily available target and has several sensitive areas. An effective headbutt can be performed with a forward, rising, sideways or backwards motion; each being effective from different positions.

Parts of the cranium with thick bone and high local curvature make for good weapon areas, and these include the forehead near the hairline, the outboard curved part of the parietal bone, and the occiput. Ideal targets are usually the fragile areas of the head, including the bridge of the nose, the cheekbones, the hinge area of the jaw, the temple, and the top edge of the eye socket.

Hitting the opponent's teeth or mouth is likely to cause mutual damage. The chin of the enemy is also a generally bad position to headbutt unless striking from below up into the bottom of the chin, similar to an uppercut. With sufficient force, one could cause the opponent to bite through his or her tongue, or slam the opponent's teeth together so hard as to break them against each other. However, headbutting the chin hard enough to accomplish such a task is very difficult.

In sports

Headbutts are generally forbidden in most sports.

Headbutting has recently received some attention due to its use by some players during FIFA World Cup matches. Headbutting is considered illegal in association football and is punishable by a red card. In the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Ariel Ortega headbutted Dutch keeper Edwin van der Sar in the Argentina vs. Netherlands quarterfinal match and was sent off. In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Rafael Marquez headbutted Cobi Jones in the Round of 16 match between USA and lost 2-0. In the 2006 FIFA World Cup another Dutch player, Mark van Bommel was headbutted, this time by Luís Figo in the Portugal vs. Netherlands Round of 16 match, but Figo received only a yellow card for his offense. In the final match against Italy, Frenchman Zinedine Zidane headbutted the Italian Marco Materazzi in the chest, for which he received a red card and a subsequent three match ban (although the red card meant Zidane could play no further part in the match, the three-match ban had no effect since he had previously announced his intention to retire after the World Cup).

Affectionate gestures

Headbutts are also used as displays of affection among humans. Typically, such headbutts will be aimed at the chest, stomach or arms and are done with force so as not to inflict pain. It is probable that the practice is influenced by pets, such as dogs and cats, nuzzling their owners.


* Moffatt, Gerald. [http://stickgrappler.tripod.com/rma/gmhead.html Headbutts or How to be a Nutter] . "stickgrappler.tripod.com". URL last accessed February 2 2006.

External links

* [http://www.hubbardtwppd.org/selfdefense/headbutt.htm Self Defense: The Standard Headbutt]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • headbutt — also head butt, by 1946 (v.), from HEAD (Cf. head) (n.) + BUTT (Cf. butt) (v.). As a noun, recorded by 1967 …   Etymology dictionary

  • headbutt — ► VERB ▪ attack (someone) using a forceful thrust with the head. ► NOUN ▪ an act of headbutting …   English terms dictionary

  • headbutt — 1. noun /ˈhɛdbʌt/ A sharp blow delivered by driving the head into the opponent, generally by lowering the head and charging forward or by rapidly tilting the head backward and then forward. 2. verb /ˈhɛdbʌt/ To deliver a sharp blow by driving the …   Wiktionary

  • headbutt — head|butt [ˈhedbʌt] v [T] to deliberately hit someone with your head …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • headbutt — see head butt …   English dictionary

  • headbutt — v. hit a person using a strong thrust with the head n. act of headbutting; when a cat gets the attention of a person by rubbing his head into the person …   English contemporary dictionary

  • headbutt — verb attack (someone) using a forceful and aggressive thrust with the head. noun an act of headbutting …   English new terms dictionary

  • headbutt — verb (T) to deliberately hit someone in the stomach with your head …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • headbutt — /ˈhɛdbʌt/ (say hedbut) verb (t) 1. to butt (someone) using one s head as a weapon. –noun 2. an act of butting with the head. –headbutter, noun –headbutting, noun …   Australian English dictionary

  • headbutt — verb butt with the head The soccer player headbutted his oponent and was sent off the field • Hypernyms: ↑butt, ↑bunt • Verb Frames: Somebody s somebody …   Useful english dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.