"head," early 14c., polle "hair of the head; piece of fur from the head of an animal," also "head," from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch pol "head, top." Sense extended early 14c. to "person, individual." Meaning "collection of votes" is first recorded 1620s, from notion of "counting heads;" meaning "survey of public opinion" is first recorded 1902. Poll tax, literally "head tax," is from 1690s. Literal use in English tends toward the part of the head where the hair grows.