Keeping an open mind and opening your heart: useful phrases with ‘open’

stylised image of a young woman looking over her shoulder at an open door
Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

In today’s post, I’m going to look at a range of phrases that contain the word ‘open’. There are a lot of them, and you may be able to think of more, but I’ve picked out ones I think will be useful to most English learners.

I’m going to start with some phrases that contain the adjective. A nice one to begin with is welcome/greet someone with open arms, meaning to welcome them in a very enthusiastic and friendly way:

The community has welcomed the refugees with open arms.

If you have/keep an open mind about something, you do not decide your opinion straight away, but wait to get more evidence:

Try to listen to his speech with an open mind.

If you describe a person or their life as an open book, you mean that you can always tell what they are thinking or that it is easy to find out everything about them. An open secret is something that is supposed to be a secret but which in reality many people know about:

As someone in the public eye, her life was an open book.

Their relationship was an open secret for years.

Let’s move on to the verb now. The phrase open your heart has two meanings: to tell someone everything, especially your problems and secrets, or to be very friendly and loving to someone:

Over dinner, he opened his heart to me.

We live in a country that has opened its heart to us.

If something opens someone’s eyes to something, it makes them see the (usually unpleasant) truth about a situation. You can call that thing an eye-opener:

My work in the slums opened my eyes to poverty and deprivation.

Their trip to the devastated region was an eye-opener.

If you open the door to something, you allow it to begin, while if something opens new doors it provides new opportunities:

Hopefully, these revelations will open the door to a much wider debate about corporate responsibility.

Having access to public transport will open new doors for me.

Something that opens the way for something makes it possible for that thing to happen, while something that opens the floodgates makes it possible for a new situation or activity to develop and become common very quickly:

Their work is opening the way for commercial space flights.

They feared that the legislation would open the floodgates for thousands of new discrimination cases.

I hope this post has opened your eyes to some useful new phrases!

12 thoughts on “Keeping an open mind and opening your heart: useful phrases with ‘open’

  1. 1. The city has welcomed me with open arms
    2. She told me to keep an open mind until all of the evidence is available.
    3. Her thought is like an open book to me
    4. The fact about human rights in communist countries is an open secret.
    5. It makes me feel insecure about opening my heart to someone.
    6. The book opens my eyes to the war.
    7. I forget how to open the door to rebuilding a new relationship (?)
    8. The laws changing open new doors for students who have special abilities.
    9. The invention of electricity opens the way for a completely new century.
    10. The internet century opens the floodgates for the economy to grow.

Leave a Reply