What does the idiom "get a problem off one's chest" mean?

The expression get a problem off one's chest is one of the idioms that often finds a place in our literature and enriches our language. However, its meaning is not fully understood, so it is sometimes used in the wrong situations. Please review the explanation carefully for the correct use of the get a problem off one's chest idiom.

Meaning of "get a problem off one's chest"


The phrase 'get a problem off one's chest' is an idiom used to describe when someone takes the time to talk to someone else and tell them the worries, guilt or stress they are feeling. It can be a difficult thing to do, but often it can make people feel a lot better, as by talking it out they can be heard, understood and can possibly even receive advice on how to better deal with the matter.


This term dates back to the early 20th century and derives from the literal meaning of it. That is to say, it originated from the idea that anxiety and stress can have a physical manifestation of a weight pressing down on one's chest, and the phrase was used to describe the sensation and the relief that came from talking about it with another person.


The phrase 'get a problem off one's chest' is typically used in conversations when someone is expressing their need to talk to someone about something that is bothering them. It can be used between friends, family, or any other confidants, and is a way of expressing the release they feel when the problem is shared.

Example Sentences

  • "I'm feeling so stressed out right now. I need to get it off my chest," said Claire.
  • "I haven't been able to talk to anyone about this, but I'm so glad I can share it with you. I'm glad I can get it off my chest," said Jake.

The meanings of the words in the "get a problem off one's chest" idiom

The Surprising Origins of Everyday English Idioms

Many English idioms have surprisingly dark origins, often rooted in violence, death, and superstition. For instance, the phrase "raining cats and dogs" is said to have originated in the 17th century, when heavy rain would often cause dead animals to wash up on the streets. Meanwhile, the idiom "rule of thumb" is believed to have originated from a law that allowed men to beat their wives with a stick no thicker than their thumb.


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