70 Idioms with Heart

By Mark Nichol

Idioms that refer to what is the fanciful seat of our emotions as well as the factual core of our circulatory system are understandably numerous. Here’s a list of phrases and expressions that include heart and, for the most part, pertain to human feelings.

1. a big heart: said of someone kind and loving
2. after my own heart: said of someone with similar preferences or values
3. a heart of gold: see “a big heart”
4. a heart of stone: said of someone without sympathy
5. all heart: see “a big heart”; sometimes used sarcastically to mean the opposite
6. at heart: basically
7. bare (one’s) heart: share one’s feelings or thoughts
8. bleeding heart: said of someone who is conspicuously or excessively generous
9. break (one’s) heart: cause someone emotional distress
10. by heart: from memory
11–13. capture/steal/win (one’s) heart: make someone fall in love with one
14–16. close/dear/near to (one’s) heart: loved or valued by someone
17. cross my heart: said as an oath to assert one’s honesty
18. didn’t have the heart: said when one cannot summon the will to do something hurtful
19. do (one’s) heart good: said about something that will be beneficial to someone
20. eat your heart out: said mockingly to someone expressing the desire for them to suffer; usually facetious
21. faint of heart: lacking courage
22–23. find a way into/to (one’s) heart: cause someone to fall in love with one
24. find it in (one’s) heart: have the compassion or courage to do something
25. follow (one’s) heart: do what one loves rather than what is expected of one
26. from the heart: with sincerity
27–28. gladden the/(one’s) heart: make someone happy or gratified
29. harden (one’s) heart: become callous
30. have (one’s) heart set on: be obsessed with obtaining
31. have (one’s) (best) interests at heart: be doing something for someone else’s benefit
32. heart goes out to: said in regard to feeling sympathy for someone
33. heart in (one’s) mouth: said of someone who has strong emotions about someone or something
34. heart is in the right place: said of someone well intentioned
35. heart of the matter: essence
36. hearts and minds: said in reference to persuading rather than compelling
37. heart’s desire: what one wishes deeply for
38. heart skips a beat: said of someone excited, frightened, or surprised
39. heavy heart: sadness
40–41. from the bottom/depths of (one’s) heart: profoundly
42. in (one’s) heart of hearts: if one’s true feelings or thoughts were known
43. know (one’s) heart: be aware of one’s true feelings
44. lose heart: become discouraged
45–46. matters/affairs of the heart: said of something pertaining to a love affair
47. melt (one’s) heart: cause someone to experience uncontrollable emotions
48. nearly gave (one) a heart attack: caused someone to feel anxiety or fear
49. (one’s) heart bleeds for: one is sympathetic
50. (one’s) heart is knocking: said of someone excited or nervous
51. (one’s) heart is not in: one does not feel a commitment to or an interest in
52. (one’s) heart leaps: one is excited
53. (one’s) heart melts: see “melt someone’s heart”
54. (one’s) heart sinks: one becomes discouraged
55. open (one’s) heart: show generosity or kindness
56–57. out of the goodness/kindness of (one’s) heart: because of generosity or goodwill
58. pour (one’s) heart/soul out: see “bare (one’s) heart”
59. put (one’s) heart into: do something with conviction or enthusiasm
60. sick at heart: discouraged
61–62. strike fear into (one’s) heart/into the heart of (one): cause someone to be afraid
63. take heart: be encouraged
64. take (something) to heart: be affected by something
65. to (one’s) heart’s content: to the extent one desires
66. warm (one’s)/the cockles of (one’s) heart: cause someone to feel positive emotion
67. wear (one’s) heart on (one’s) sleeve: openly show one’s emotions
68. with a sinking heart: said of someone who becomes discouraged or hopeless
69. with all (one’s) heart: with great enthusiasm
70. young at heart: youthful

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4 Responses to “70 Idioms with Heart”

  • Dale A. Wood

    Notice the similarity between the “the heart of the matter” and “the crux of the matter” and “the crux of the situation”.
    Notice that in German, the same meaning is expressed using the noun “Kern” = “kernel” or “core”. In English, we can also say “the kernel of the situation”, or use a expression using the word “core”. In German, “Kern” also means “nucleus”, or in compound words “nuclear”.

  • Dale A. Wood

    Another idiom is “with a leaden heart”, which means the same as “with a heavy heart”.
    The opposite sentiment is expressed by “with an airy heart”. Of course, this means about the same as the word “lighthearted”.
    “With an iron heart” = “ironhearted” = “with a heart of steel”.
    Did the “Tin Man” have a tin heart? A tin ear?
    What would “a brass heart” be?

  • Dale A. Wood

    “Kernbetrieben” means “nuclear powered” as in “das Kernbetriebenkreuzer” = the nuclear-powered cruiser.

  • venqax

    The above heart, crux, core is also expressed by the English “nub”, variant of “knob”, the German cognate being Knopf.

    Blackhearted= evil, bad character.

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