What does the idiom "take to one's heels" mean?

take to one's heels is an idiom used by many writers. When idioms are used in the right place, they open the doors of effective communication and increase your descriptive power. In this way, you will be better understood. The meaning of the expression take to one's heels is also remarkable in this respect.

Meaning of "take to one's heels"


To take to one's heels is an idiom which describes fleeing, or running away. This phrase is often used in situations where a person needs to escape a dangerous, or threatening situation, or if they need to leave quickly to avoid a particular outcome.


The origins of this phrase can be traced back to the 16th century. In that era, the phrase "to take to one's heels" was used to refer to a horse taking off at a gallop. This phrase is also believed to come from the Latin phrase "calce prehendere", which literally means "to seize the heels".


The idiom "to take to one's heels" is used in both written and spoken English. It is typically used in situations where a person needs to leave quickly in order to avoid a negative outcome or situation. It can be used in both a literal and figurative sense, depending on the context. For example, in a literal sense, someone might use this phrase to describe themselves running away from a dangerous situation. In a figurative sense, someone might use this phrase to describe someone who is avoiding a difficult conversation or situation by deciding to leave.

Example Sentences

  • When the alarm went off, the thieves took to their heels and ran away as quickly as they could.
  • When it became clear the argument was not going to end well, she decided to take to her heels and leave the room.
  • The young girl was so scared of the loud noise that she took to her heels and ran out of the room.

The meanings of the words in the "take to one's heels" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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