What does the idiom "have one's heart in one's mouth" mean?

Although the meanings of the words in them do not make any sense when examined one by one, the word groups that are shaped according to the cultural roots of the language and that make sense as a whole are called idioms. have one's heart in one's mouth meaning, in what situations is it used?

Meaning of "have one's heart in one's mouth"


The idiom “have one’s heart in one’s mouth” is used to express a feeling of immense fear or anxiety. It implies a level of fear so intense that it feels as if the person's heart is literally in their mouth, so powerful that it almost renders them speechless.


The origin of this phrase is not entirely certain. Some believe it originated from the Bible, from the book Leviticus, though it is not clear which exact chapter and verse the phrase can be found. Other sources have suggested it has its roots in Norse mythology, in the form of a phrase that translates to “have your heart in your mouth”. The phrase itself dates back to the early 17th century, and was first seen in print in 1611 in Gilbert McMaster’s play ‘The Loyal Servant’.


This phrase is often used to express a certain level of anxiety and distress, and is particularly useful when describing a situation in which a character’s nervousness is so intense that they can barely speak. It can also be used to describe a sudden rush of emotion or feeling, such as when someone has to make a difficult decision or when they are faced with an unexpected situation. It can also simply be used as a figure of speech to talk about someone’s mental state in general.

Example Sentences

  • I had my heart in my mouth when I heard the news.
  • I had my heart in my mouth when I saw the bill.
  • She had her heart in her mouth when she heard the news.
  • The thought of having to make the decision made him have his heart in his mouth.

The meanings of the words in the "have one's heart in one's mouth" idiom

Beyond the Literal: Figurative Language in Idioms

Idioms often use figurative language to convey a message that is not meant to be taken literally. For instance, the idiom "bite the bullet" means to endure a painful or difficult situation without complaint, while "hold your horses" means to be patient and wait. Other idioms, like "kick the bucket" or "pop your clogs," use euphemisms to talk about death.


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