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10 Heart Idioms Explained to ESL Students

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Kerlyn is a Filipina writer who has studied English. She wants to share her insights with new learners.

Read on to learn 10 heart idioms in English. Idioms can be difficult for ESL students to grasp, but this list will help you begin to expand your conversational English!

Read on to learn 10 heart idioms in English. Idioms can be difficult for ESL students to grasp, but this list will help you begin to expand your conversational English!

What Is an Idiom?

There are many idioms or idiomatic expressions in the English language. It is said that there are around 25,000 idioms in English! Many of these, unfortunately, sound and look strange to most students of English as a Second Language (ESL).

This is because many students of English often do not get the chance to speak in English outside of the classroom and learn how idioms are used in conversational settings.

Native English speakers, on the other hand, obviously engage in English communication daily, helping them learn and understand the figurative definitions of idioms and how they are used in speech.

Below is a list of ten common idioms that use the popular word heart. Because they use the word heart, these idioms refer to feelings or matters of the heart.

  1. Cross your heart and hope to die
  2. From the bottom of one's heart
  3. Tug at someone's heartstrings
  4. Have a soft spot in one's heart
  5. Pour one's heart out
  6. To be a heartbeat away
  7. Wear your heart on your sleeve
  8. Young at heart
  9. Not have the heart to do something
  10. With all one's heart and soul

1. Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die

An idiom that many children say is cross your heart and hope to die. A person who says this is promising that what they are saying is true.

Example

Do you promise to be my friend? Cross your heart and hope to die?

2. From the Bottom of One’s Heart

The idiom from the bottom of one’s heart stands for sincerity. If words do come from the bottom of one’s heart, then those words are said to be pure.

Example

You saved my life! I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

3. Tug at Someone’s Heartstrings

When an action tugs at someone’s heartstrings, then that action makes a person feel either sympathetic or sad.

Example

The sight of the couple holding hands while walking tugged at my heartstrings.

4. Have a Soft Spot in One’s Heart for Someone

The idiom have a soft spot in one’s heart for someone means having fondness or affection for a person.

Example

She has a soft spot in her heart for her prodigal son. She accepts him even with all of his failings.

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5. Pour One’s Heart Out

Pouring one’s heart out is an idiom that connotes telling one’s true feelings to another person. These feelings might be a person’s fears, hopes or regrets.

Example

She poured her heart out to us. She’s going through a lot right now.

6. To Be a Heartbeat Away

When someone is a heartbeat away from something then that person is an heir to a coveted position or a successor of somebody important. It can also be used more generally to mean that one is very close to something, often an achievement.

Examples

Marga is a heartbeat away from becoming the next CEO. She is the leading candidate for the position.

John recognized that his most dedicated student, Selma, was a heartbeat away from winning the upcoming piano competition.

7. Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

To wear your heart on your sleeve means that someone shows their feelings openly.

Example

He wore his heart on his sleeve and talked lengthily about his failed marriage to his new friends.

8. Young at Heart

A person who is advanced in age yet still enjoys doing things that young people do is said to be young at heart.

Example

Old Elmer is young at heart and loves walking on the beach and chatting with his friends at the bar.

9. Not Have the Heart to Do Something

Somebody does not have the heart to do something when they are afraid or unwilling to say something that might hurt or offend another person.

Example

Wilma does not have the heart to tell her mother that she’s terminally ill.

10. With All One’s Heart and Soul

A person gives something with all one’s heart and soul when they do something with enthusiasm, energy and a lot of effort.

Example

Dolly sang with all her heart and soul and won a major singing contest in her state.

More English Heart Idioms

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 kerlynb

Comments

Asiya on January 05, 2020:

Very helpful to my home work

lea on November 07, 2018:

helped with my homework

faturoti olasunkanmi daniel on February 25, 2012:

Idiomatic expression can simply be put, as an expression epressed by humanbeing,which after expressed you cannot derive the meaning denotatively,but a connotatively meaning.

htodd from United States on November 27, 2011:

Thanks for these idioms..This is really nice

kerlynb (author) from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ on November 04, 2011:

@Hubertsvoice Thank you! Always a pleasure to read your comments :)

Hubertsvoice on November 04, 2011:

up and very interesting. Well done. Wilma does not have the heart to tell her mother that she’s terminally ill Wilma is my mother's name, and she had to face that situation.

kerlynb (author) from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ on November 03, 2011:

@asmaiftikhar You're very kind. Thanks for such warm compliments :) Makes me want to write some more.

asmaiftikhar from Pakistan on November 03, 2011:

Dearest kar you take the heart of English language students.That is Informative,useful,interesting,unique,awesome,beautiful hub.vooooooooted up! dear now and forever.thanks a lot.

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