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Do you hit someone (or get hit) in the head (leg, arm, etc) or on the head?

Did you hit yourself in the head?
Did you hit yourself on the head?

Would other expressions be more appropriate, when the poor kid bumps his head against something?

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I would always use "on" for a blow to a body part, unless the body part I was literally referring to was an internal organ, or otherwise regarded as interior. So "on the head", "on the arm", "on the back", but "in the kidneys", "in the belly", and "in the crotch".

If I heard "hit in the head" I would think first of a gunshot wound rather than a blow.

  • "Hit on the head by a projectile" sounds awkward to me; much better is "Hit in the head by a projectile". Could be a difference between my American English and UK English? – tenfour Mar 11 '11 at 8:27
  • Maybe it is. My judgment on those is opposite to yours. – Colin Fine Mar 17 '11 at 17:30
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You can say either:

I hit him on the head.

This implies that you hit him on the top of the head, or skull.

I hit him in the head.

This implies that you hit him somewhere in the head, but not necessarily on top.

Look at the headline here which uses "hit in the head":

http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/offbeat/justin-bieber-hit-in-the-head-with-water-bottle-20100809

  • He took at hit to the head ;) – mplungjan Mar 10 '11 at 13:18
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I agree with Robusto. You ask for other ways to ask that question. I would naturally say:

Ohhh, did you hit your head?

Without prepositions, "Hit your head" means roughly the same as "Hit in the head". The difference is that "Hit in the head" means it came from external sources, like someone throwing a ball at you. "Hit your head" just means your head was hit, with no implication of the source / fault.

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