Skip to Content

What Does “Bury Your Head In The Sand” Mean? When To Say It

What Does “Bury Your Head In The Sand” Mean? When To Say It

Do you want to avoid difficult situations? Do you sometimes feel that problems are too big? Do you want to run away if things get ugly? Would you rather someone else do what you have to do?

“Bury your head in the sand” is an idiom that means I refuse to think about ugly situations even though they affect me directly. It is when someone hides from facing the facts. We also use it when someone refuses to recognize the problems that are happening.

We used this phrase in negative situations when saying that a person buries their head in the sand to avoid seeing the problems that are happening to them. The reality is that hiding from issues will not make them go away, so we used the phrase to describe a short moment.

The Origin Of The Phrase “Bury Your Head In The Sand.”

This idiom draws very well with its words the meaning that people have given it through time. No source confirms the origin that most people give it. It frequently happens with the idiomatic expressions that we all use in our daily conversations.

Experts say that this phrase first appeared in the 19th century. The idea behind this idiom is that ostriches sometimes stick their heads into holes in the ground.

Many people think this belief about ostriches is true. The reality is that ostriches do not bury their heads in the ground to avoid trouble. But it is already a common belief, so we use this phrase to explain it.

Why The Meaning Of “Bury Your Head In The Sand” Could Be Incorrect?


“Bury your head in the sand” comes from a mistaken belief that ostriches bury their heads in the ground to hide from predators.

The first person to write about this story was the Roman writer Pliny, the Elder. This writer said that ostriches hid their heads in the bushes of the field. We need to know that ostriches do not hide in the bushes or the sand on the ground. What they do is that they sometimes lie on the ground so that other animals do not see them.

That fact may be why people think they hide their heads in the ground: It is also likely that people have seen ostriches duck their heads to eat.

For this reason, the meaning of “Bury your head in the sand” comes from ignoring a problem that has serious consequences.

This Roman writer Pliny the Elder, surely thought he saw an ostrich burying its head in the sand, but he was wrong. It is false that Ostriches bury their heads in the ground when they sense danger.

What they do is that they run away or lie down on the ground. Because ostriches’ heads are light-colored, they blend in with the color of the sand, and their enemies do not see them.

The conclusion is that we better stop saying that ostriches bury their heads in the ground to hide because it is not valid.

Some people say that the ostrich is a dumb bird because it cannot see its enemy if it buries its head in the ground. This theory has no evidence to say that it is true. On the contrary, ostriches have a higher brain-to-weight ratio than other species of animals.

This belief is a popular joke, which has appeared even in the movies. For example, in Douglas Adams’ film Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The character Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal was so mind-bogglingly stupid that he assumed that if you can’t see him, then he can’t see you.”

How People Use The Phrase “Bury Your Head In The Sand”


“Bury your head in the sand” is a prevalent phrase. It is so popular that we can give it many different meanings depending on our situation. Let’s review below some of the uses we can give to this idiom.

  • The first thing is to understand that “Bury your head in the sand” is a phrase we use to describe a negative situation.
  • It is an expression we use to say that someone is hiding from their problems.
  • We also use it to say that you cannot hide from problems. It will only be possible for a very short time, as the situation will be there when we raise our heads again.
  • It is a phrase often used to tell someone it is foolish to pretend to hide from a problem. The problem will not go away just by ignoring it.
  • It is a way of telling someone that if they delay facing a problem, it may be worse later.
  • This phrase is used to compare the behavior of an adult with that of a child. The child hides only by covering his eyes and thus believes that no one else can see him just because he can’t see anything.
  • Positive use is when someone says it is true that the problem will not go away, but the person will gain time to feel better.
  • We use it when we commit our boss or a client that we will finish the pending work. But we are convinced that we will not be able to do it on time.
  • When I discover a grave mistake I have made in my work and correct it, and I have to do everything again from the beginning. Saying nothing or doing nothing is a way of burying my head in the sand.
  • When someone delegates a very important task to me, and I know I won’t be able to accomplish it, I will let someone down, but I don’t tell the truth right away, i.e., I bury my head in the sand.
  • Sometimes we are conscious that we are hiding from the problems. But we keep doing it anyway.
  • It is also a way of giving ourselves a break from a highly complex situation. It is our mind that asks us to bury our heads in the sand.
  • It is a way of prolonging an imminent collapse.
  • You use this phrase when you walk away from important things. But you expect everything will be better when you return.
  • This phrase also shows a moment of desperation.
  • We use it when we stop doing something crucial for another thing less critical.
  • You use it when you know beforehand that you are going to look bad in some commitment.

What Words And Expressions Could Be Synonyms And Antonyms For “Bury Your Head In The Sand”?

We are almost ready to start using this phrase. But first, we are going to review which are the synonyms that could replace them without changing the meaning of the sentence. We will also see the main antonyms or words that would express the opposite of “Bury your head in the sand.”


Avoid: to refrain or stay away from something.

Reject: to say no to something

Fail: to make a mistake in something

Evade: to deny or avoid something

Neglect: to ignore something that is happening

Overlook: pass something off as something intentionally.

Scorn: to despise someone or something

Shut eyes to: to close one’s eyes to something

Pay no mind: to ignore people.

Look the other way: to look the other way and be indifferent to situations.

Turn blind eye: turn a blind eye


Accomplish: to accomplish something

Achieve: achieve an objective

Attend: to attend somewhere.

Complete: to finish something

Finish: to complete or culminate something

Acknowledge: to acknowledge something.

Succeed: achieve or succeed in something.

Pay attention: to pay attention to something.

Take notice: to notice or become aware of something

Examples Of The Use Of The Phrase “Bury Your Head In The Sand” In Everyday Sentences


It is time to look at some practical examples of our writing today. It is important to remember everything we have studied so far. Although it is easy to understand a sentence, we must know how to recognize when it would be the best moment to use it correctly. Let’s see how it looks in some sentences, and then it’s your turn.

  • Every day he gets more bills to pay, but all he does is bury his head in the sand.
  • Since your husband left you, all he has done is bury his head in the sand, and he doesn’t want to face his situation.
  • Mom, please stop burying your head in the sand and see a doctor right away.

Other English Idioms

A Final Thought On “Bury Your Head In The Sand”

Today, we learned that “Bury your head in the sand” is ideal when someone avoids a severe problem despite the consequences. We learned that it is a phrase that can be used in sentences with a negative meaning. And we knew that it is not true that ostriches bury their heads in the sand.

The important thing is that we continue to expand our vocabulary. Every day we understand our wonderful language more and more. Let’s continue studying and putting into practice what we have learned.