One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Mining and Building. Originally: a horizontal supporting beam placed on top of one or more vertical props or posts. In later use also: a horizontal beam on two or more uprights.
2With reference to certain tribal societies: a tall or prominent tree on which heads of decapitated enemies are hung as trophies.
Mid 18th century. From head + tree.
head tree/ˈhɛd ˌtriː/
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