English Language Blog

Heart-related idioms in English Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 in English Language, English Vocabulary

Image by Kevin Dooley on Flickr.com.

Image by Kevin Dooley on Flickr.com.

The heart is not just an essential organ of the human body; it is also considered the center of love, compassion, bravery, and emotions. There are so many phrases, expressions, and idioms in English connected to the word ‘heart’ that I thought it was time we take a look at some them. Below I have listed a number of idioms in which the word ‘heart’ is featured. As you will see there is often a lot of emotion connected with these idioms too. I have also provided examples of use and a short fill-in the blank exercise for you to try out your understanding of these new expressions at the end of the post. Enjoy!

Heart-related idioms:

to be after (one’s) own heart – a way of describing someone who is similar to you or does things in a way that makes you happy
Example: Jill is a cook after my own heart; she always makes food that I love.

a bleeding heart – a person who feels sympathy or compassion for everyone/everything, even when it is undeserved
Example: Kate is such a bleeding heart she takes in all the feral cats that are in her neighborhood.

to cross (one’s) heart and hope to die – this is a saying that is an emphatic or expressive way of making a promise
Example: I cross my heart hope to die, I will never tell anyone what you said.

in a heart’s beat – very fast
Example: I’ll be back in a heart’s beat, I promise.

to eat (one’s) heart out – to feel jealous, angry or bitter about something
(This phrase is usually used when describing or talking about someone else, not one’s self.)
Example: Eat your heart out Julie, I got the diamond necklace from mom and you didn’t!

to get to the heart of (something) – to get to the most important part or details
Example: When we finally got to the heart of the matter I could understand why everyone was so upset.

a heart of gold – a kind or generous person
Example: Joe is the kindest person I know, he truly has a heart of gold.

(one’s) heart goes out to (something) – to feel great sympathy
Example: My heart goes out to all the parents who lost their children in the accident.

a/the heart to heart – a conversation that is intimate and truthful;
Example: I finally had the heart to heart I needed to have with my brother about his wife.

to know (something) by heart – to have something memorized perfectly
Example: The children were asked to know their telephone numbers and addresses by heart by the end of the week.

to take heart – to be encouraged or to be brave about something
Example: I told Emily to take heart; that the worst was past her now.

Fill in the blank exercise:

1)    The parents ______________________ knowing that their son was in a better place now.
2)    Shelly is such a _______________________. She loves every animal she sees, even the ugly, old, and lame ones. She thinks they are all cute.
3)    I _________________________________, I will never tell anyone your secret.
4)    Dinner will be ready ____________________, so please sit down at the table right now.
5)    Donna is so nice to me all the time. I swear she has a _________________.









1) took heart; 2) bleeding heart; 3) cross my heart and hope to die; 4) in a heart beat; 5) heart of gold

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.