What does the idiom "strike a chord" mean?

Are you using the idiom strike a chord 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 strike a chord idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "strike a chord"


The idiomatic phrase “strike a chord” is used when something resonates strongly with someone, either positively or negatively. This can mean that something either immediately made a strong connection, or is familiar from the past, and it often refers to a feeling or philosophy that is shared in common between two people.


The phrase “strike a chord” has roots in both music and literature, and was likely originally used as a reference to a literal chord as something that resonates, either in music or in the human experience. The phrase was likely first used in the 1840s, when it appeared in the novel “The Ladies Magazine” by poet and playwright Elizabeth Gaskell. The phrase likely found its way into common usage in the 20th century, when it became commonly used in a figurative sense.


The phrase “strike a chord” is typically used as an expression of understanding, sympathy or empathy. For example, if a person is telling a story and the listener is able to relate to the experience being shared, they may say “that really struck a chord with me.” This is a way of conveying that the listener understands or empathizes with the shared experience. The phrase can also be used in a more negative fashion to convey that something is too familiar, or that it has an unwanted connection to the listener’s past experiences.

Example Sentences

  • The speaker’s words really struck a chord with the audience, and they all found themselves in agreement.
  • My brother was telling me about his experience with bullies at school, and it really struck a chord with me.
  • I heard the song on the radio and it really struck a chord with me, bringing back memories of my childhood.
  • The novel was really popular with readers, as its themes really struck a chord with them.

The meanings of the words in the "strike a chord" idiom

The power of idioms transcends languages!

"Putting the cart before the horse" is an English idiom that means doing things in the wrong order. In Russian, the similar idiom is "Кладёт колесо впереди лошади," which translates to "Putting the cart before the horse." This idiom emphasizes the idea that doing things in the wrong order can lead to confusion and problems down the line.


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