At Loggerheads

Meaning of “At Loggerheads”

The phrase “at loggerheads” literally means to strike another person’s head with one’s head. The phrase is also used to express disputes and disputing the nature of people. The phrase can be used when two persons do not agree and physically or verbally abuse each other.

Origin of “At Loggerheads”

The phrase “at loggerheads” appeared in the United Kingdom. It was first used by William Shakespeare but not in the same words. In his play, Love Labors Lost, published in 1588, it goes: Ah you whoreson logger-head, you were borne to doe me shame.” Later this phrase has been used with the addition of preposition “to” and sometimes “at,” but it is “at loggerheads” that has become popular in the twentieth century.

Examples in Literature

Examples #1

At Loggerheads Forever by Jayashantha Jayawardhana

You call sycophancy
What I believe to be love;
Wha’s naivety for you
Is kindness for me;
What you view as stupidity
I regard as levity;
It’s worldly-wisdom for you
What’s downright rudeness for me.

The poem explains the true meanings of this phrase in the title. The poet expresses his opinion on his friend along with the differences between them. His friend thinks it is flattery, when the poet puts it as love, naivety as kindness and stupidity as levity. He further mentions that he cannot be rude to tell others what they are. Therefore, he is “at loggerheads” with his friend to avoid a physical brawl.

Examples #2

At Loggerheads by Tom Allport

The class of 1957
Where in holiday heaven
They travelled down by bus
To North Wales without any fuss
Arriving at Loggerheads, Colomendy
Where everybody was very friendly
Til’ it came to bed
When the teacher’s said
Lights out
They both cried
Then we all cried.

The short narrative poem recalls one of the memories of the poet’s school days. In 1957, he traveled with his class to North Wales and stayed at Loggerheads. Here the phrase is the actual name of the hotel in Colomendy. The poet details how the children were well-behaved until the teacher ordered them to go to bed. Once the teacher left, the children started making noise and fighting with each other.

Examples #3

The Story of the Thames by Andrew Sargent

“He believed in the ‘Divine Right of Kings’, and when he found himself at loggerheads with the people’s representatives he simply chose not to summon Parliament for eleven years. Finally, driven by lack of funds, he recalled Parliament in, only to dissolve it within a few weeks. Charles was forced to summon another Parliament in November of that year, which proceeded to wring concession from the king in exchange for taxes.”

The book traces the history of the river Thames and details the growth of democracy in the United Kingdom. This paragraph shows that King Charles used to avoid Parliament as long as he could, but finally dissolved it. The use of the phrase shows that King Charles was disagreeing with Parliament but finally settled the matter of tax with the public representatives. The use of the phrase shows the brawl between the king and the public representatives.

Examples #4

Abishag by Robert N. Pripps

“After the death of Henry Ford and under the leadership of Henry II, things in the Ford Tractor business changed markedly. In an effort to be among the first to bring a multiple-speed power shift transmission to market, marketing forces welcomed engineering restraint. Harold insisted the transmission needed much more development and testing than it had thus far received. At loggerheads with management, Harold left Forde and finished his career at John Deere.”

Abishag is a story about the Ford Tractor, its making, and the management of the factory. According to the story, Harold suggested power transmission in tractor engines. He left Ford when his suggestion was rejected. It is because his concept did not coincide with the management and facing resistance he left the factory. This tussle between the engineer and the management is shown through the use of this phrase.

Examples in Sentences

Examples #1: “When Josh and Jaden are at home they are at loggerheads. However, they always support each other at school because they are brothers.”

Examples #2: “A family must stay united to overcome hard times. If they are at loggerheads with each other, they cannot win.”

Examples #3: “The climate change activists and the industrialists will always be at loggerheads. However, climate change is real and people have to be afraid.”

Examples #4: “The Johnson’s will always be at loggerheads with the Steels because they fight over their fences.”

Examples #5: “The manager is always at loggerheads with his team when they ask for leave.”