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Last updated at 12:17 GMT, Thursday, 31 January 2013

Old head on young shoulders

Indian children dressed like Mahatma Gandhi

Indian children dress like Mahatma Gandhi to mark the anniversary of his death in 1948. Photo: Arun Sankar K / AP

Today's Phrase

'An old head on young shoulders', or 'a wise head on young shoulders' is a young person who behaves like an older person with more experience.

You can say someone 'has an old head on young shoulders' or 'is an old head on young shoulders'.


Brazilian footballer Pele, at 17, was the youngest player at the 1958 World Cup. But he proved he was an old head on young shoulders by helping his team win the tournament, scoring six goals in the process.

Martha started her first business selling birthday cards at 16. She was a wise head on young shoulders and by 21 was running a large publishing company, dealing with big clients.

Take note

If something is 'head and shoulders above the rest', it is substantially better than the others.

Martin's idea for a documentary film really was head and shoulders above the others. That's why they decided to commission him.

Interesting fact

On January 30, 1948, India's 'Father of the Nation', Mahatma Gandhi, was assassinated. The name 'mahatma' means 'great soul', and his philosophy of peaceful resistance is widely credited with having forced the peaceful end of British rule of India in 1947, the year before his death.

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