Definition of headhunt in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Collect the heads of dead enemies as trophies.

    • ‘But after eight years of more or less permanent warfare, tit-for-tat raiding and headhunting, he grasped a rare opportunity for freedom.’
    • ‘It also still retains longhouses with shrunken heads hanging from the ceiling, a testimony to the days of headhunting, now finished, and less excitingly replaced in some of the tribes by dancing around covered in the blood of chickens.’
    • ‘Although these accounts suggest that Gogodala actively agreed to cease warfare and headhunting, this does not diminish the significance of these activities for the Gogodala at that time.’
    • ‘While headhunting no longer exists, a blending of Amerindian and European beliefs often persists in festivals and other observances.’
    • ‘However, after the arrival of the Europeans, Iatmuls who practiced cannibalism and headhunting were labeled as murderers.’
    • ‘While Collison's depiction of a people becoming embroiled in bloody ethnic feuds and headhunting may seem a little far-fetched, he has heavily based his fictional ‘uprisings’ on firm factual ground.’
    • ‘In many societies in the Sepik River region of Papua New Guinea, the original belief systems included aspects of headhunting and cannibalism.’
    • ‘They are also notorious for their traditional practices of headhunting and cannibalism.’
    • ‘The practice of removing the scalp, ‘the haire skinne of the head’, from a slain enemy as a trophy, originated in ancient headhunting.’
    • ‘White rapacity, hypocrisy, and cant are hard to stomach, but so are cannibalism, headhunting (and its symbolic extension, scalping), and the refined torture of captives.’
  • 2Identify and approach (a suitable person employed elsewhere) to fill a business position.

    ‘successful managers are headhunted from larger companies’
    • ‘Announcing he has been headhunted by a failing trust in Essex, he believes he will leave patients with the ‘best-designed hospital in the country’.’
    • ‘Your shiatsu therapist is headhunted by an Internet Startup and your accountant becomes an actor.’
    • ‘Schools are also being encouraged to link up with one or another corporation, teaching a suitably modified curriculum and giving the sponsoring businesses a chance to headhunt the more gifted pupils.’
    • ‘Perhaps with our investigative talents they'll be headhunting us soon!’
    • ‘A born entrepreneur, at the age of 10 she managed six paper rounds and by 12 she ran a marketing operation for a local fruit shop that saw business boom to such an extent that she was headhunted by the sweet shop across the road.’
    • ‘And after all, most of these high street brands continue to advertise in industry specific journals or headhunt top sector specialists.’
    • ‘In the meantime, he was headhunted by a large civil engineering firm in Ireland and he returned permanently to work in Ireland in May 1994.’
    • ‘‘I was being headhunted at the time, but I knew there was great potential here,’ said Hesse.’
    • ‘We were all headhunted quickly by big pharmas at home and abroad, but for personal reasons it was important for all of us to stay.’
    • ‘A shortage would push technology salaries upwards and result in staff being headhunted, according to Byrne.’
    • ‘Between 1997 and 2001, at least a dozen professorial level scholars of Asia were headhunted for strategic jobs elsewhere.’
    • ‘In two years, the company turned around a severe recruitment problem and employees who were regularly headhunted said they'd prefer to stay put.’
    • ‘Cawley was headhunted from his job in a Swiss IT consultancy to which he had been commuting every week from his Galway base.’
    • ‘That was going along quite nicely, and then in '97 I was headhunted by an ISP who employed me as their inhouse web designer.’
    • ‘She was then headhunted by CIE to run its self-insurance programme with responsibility for €150 million of financial provisions.’
    • ‘In the months that he and Moseley were nagging their bank managers, Craker was being headhunted for a different job.’
    • ‘Most were headhunted or found work via referrals from colleagues in other high-tech firms, rather than through recruitment agencies.’
    • ‘‘In all professions, the people who are successful are headhunted,’ he said.’
    • ‘It has even created a kind of ideology, of which other countries have competed to partake: just look at the eagerness with which Australian coaches have been headhunted and academies inaugurated.’
    • ‘Successful graduates are all now in full-time employment, some with their sponsor companies, while many were also headhunted into more lucrative positions.’