To Bury One’s Head In The Sand

This phrase is used to indicate the refusal to take any notice of a difficulty or problem, to pretend that it does not exist, or to think it will go away, or solve itself. The expression is based on the habit of the ostrich that is reputed to bury its head in sand when pursued and in danger in the belief that it cannot be seen. The ostrich, which is the largest flightless bird in Africa with a height of up to nine feet, in fact does no such thing. Despite their size they are extremely agile. When they sense the approach of predators, they bend their necks parallel to the ground to listen intently and, if in danger, they are able to escape by running away at speeds of upto 40 mph. They probably give the impression of burying their heads when they are seen bending their necks and listening close to the ground, or when attending to the eggs in their nests, which consist of a simple depression scraped in the sand.

Words by Adam Jacot de Boinod, author of The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from around the World, published by Penguin Books and creator of the iPhone App Tingo, a quiz on Interesting Words

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