What does the idiom "keep one's chin up" mean?

Are you using the idiom keep one's chin up but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the keep one's chin up idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "keep one's chin up"


The phrase "keep one's chin up" is an idiom used to encourage someone to stay strong and persevere through difficult times, rather than letting the hardships get them down. It is used to tell someone to not give up, but to remain positive and have hope.


This phrase is of British origin, and dates back to at least the 1800s. The term “chin up” can be traced back even further to the 1500s. It is believed to come from a literal sense of physically raising one’s chin when one is feeling down or depressed. This physical gesture was then used metaphorically to describe someone maintaining a cheerful attitude despite difficult circumstances.


This phrase is typically used in informal settings between friends or family members, or as a motivational piece of advice from a teacher, mentor, or other authority figure. It can also be used in a more serious context to support someone who is going through a particularly difficult moment. The phrase is often used as a way of conveying optimism and good wishes, and does not necessarily imply that the person’s struggles are going to be resolved quickly. Rather, it is meant to provide encouragement to stay strong and keep an upbeat attitude.

Example Sentences

  • “I know it’s been difficult lately, but don’t forget to keep your chin up. Things will get better soon.”
  • “My boss has been on my case all week, but I’m trying to keep my chin up and stay positive.”
  • “No matter how hard things get, remember to keep your chin up and never give up.”

The meanings of the words in the "keep one's chin up" 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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