Noggin – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a fun, informal, way to tell someone to use their brain or to be careful about protecting their head?

The slang word “noggin” may be just what you are looking for. This post unpacks the meaning and history of the term.

Meaning

The informal but fairly widely-used word noggin means someone’s head — and often, it is specifically used to refer to a person’s brain or thinking skills. It is primarily used in US English.

In more recent times, the word noggin has come to be used to refer to oral sex, as in “give me some noggin”.

Occasionally, noggin can also be used to refer to a small cup. This was its original meaning.

Example Usage

Are you hoping to find out more about the way in which the word noggin, meaning head, can be used in practice? These example sentences will help you out:

  • He insulted be, so I bumped him on the noggin. You gotta defend yourself.
  • You don’t know what 3 x 4 is, son? Get your noggin on straight or you won’t do well in life.
  • Have you got a thick noggin or something? Get out of here!
  • Let’s put our noggins together to come up with the best solution to this problem.

Origin

The word noggin originally referred to a small wooden cup carved from the burl (a deformation on the trunk) of a tree. The volume of a noggin was equal to a quarter pint.

These cups originally came from the United Kingdom, and were brought over to the United States, along with the word noggin. Some people in Scotland and Ireland continue to use these cups, and as such also the name noggin.

Since the mid 1800s, however, the word noggin also came to have an additional meaning — a person’s head, and often specifically its contents, the brain.

This meaning of the word noggin is considered an archaic slang term, but its use remains fairly common and most people in the United States understand what it means. Noggin is defined in mainstream dictionaries such as Collins.

In more recent times, the word noggin has been incorporated into the names of YouTube channels and “fun” learning activities for small children, reviving its popularity.

The fact that noggin was first defined as meaning “head” on Urban Dictionary in 2003, and multiple times after that, can attest to its popularity.

A newer meaning of noggin, namely the act of giving or receiving oral sex (“giving some noggin” or “getting some noggin”), first appeared on Urban Dictionary in 2006. This use arose because oral sex is also referred to as “giving head”.

Words Similar to Noggin

Are you looking for words that mean “head” or “brain”, and that have a similar vibe to noggin? You could try using:

  • Skull
  • Noodle
  • Dome
  • Cabbage

Words Opposite to Noggin

Should you want to tell someone that they don’t have a good noggin — in other words, that they are not very smart — you could say:

  • Dense
  • Thick
  • Idiot
  • Nitwit

What Is the Correct Word?

The correct word is noggin, a common slang or informal word that means head or brain.

Ways People May Say Noggin Incorrectly

Some people have interpreted the word noggin to mean “stupid”. This is incorrect. Noggin simply refers to someone’s head, and often the brain in particular. It does not denote a lack of intelligence unless it is coupled with adjectives like “thick” or “stupid”.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Noggin

You may use the word noggin to mean someone’s head or brain if you are looking for a slightly silly and casual slang term. Nearly everyone in the United States will understand what you mean.

Should you be interested in using the word noggin to talk about oral sex, meanwhile, you should be aware that not everyone will be familiar with this way of using the slang term.

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