In Part 1 of this ‘heart’ series, I looked at common ‘heart’ idioms and phrases for saying that someone is kind. In this post, I’ll consider various figurative senses of the word ‘heart’ and then focus on idioms and phrases that relate to love and romance.
Just as the heart is located (more or less!) centrally in the body, the ‘heart’ of a place is the central part of it.
This was once the heart of the city’s busy retail sector.
It has its headquarters in the heart of the capital.
Similarly, we also use ‘heart’ for the softer, central part of some vegetables, especially those with many layers, such as lettuces, celery and artichokes:
Romaine lettuce hearts / celery hearts
The heart is, of course, an essential organ in the body, providing a vital function. Related, the heart of a particular subject is its most important and key part:
At the heart of the dispute is a disagreement over territory.
The article cuts straight to the heart of the matter.
Other meanings of ‘heart’ are found in phrases. For example, there’s the sense of ‘hope and optimism’ in the phrases take heart and lose heart. If you ‘take heart’, you start to feel more hopeful and positive about a situation and if you ‘lose heart’, you feel discouraged and pessimistic:
Democrats will take heart from the poll which puts them slightly ahead of their rivals.
Don’t lose heart just because you’ve had one rejection.
Another group of ‘heart’ phrases conveys ideas about things that interest you. For example, a subject that is dear/close to your heart is important to you and you feel strongly about it:
Affordable housing is a topic that’s very dear to my heart.
If you try to do something but your heart isn’t in it, you no longer care or feel interested enough to do it properly:
I started a law degree, but my heart just wasn’t in it.
Meanwhile, your heart’s desire is the thing that you want very much:
Eventually, she got her heart’s desire, which was a house in the country.
And so to heart idioms and phrases that relate to love and romance. You might already know the idiom to break someone’s heart, meaning ‘to make someone very sad by stopping loving them’. (We also say that someone has a broken heart and that someone is broken-hearted):
She broke his heart when she left him for another man.
What a handsome boy. He’ll break a few hearts when he’s older!
She helped him mend his broken heart.
The young widow was so broken-hearted that she never remarried
A slightly literary phrase that means ‘start to love someone’ is lose your heart to someone. Another literary ‘heart’ phrase is to steal/win someone’s heart (=make them love you):
He lost his heart to the young actress.
It was there that she met the young man who would steal her heart.
You sometimes hear people talking humorously about the way to someone’s heart, meaning ‘the way to make them love you’:
The way to Tom’s heart is definitely through his stomach (=he will love you if you give him delicious food)!
We’ll end with a saying. To convey that we often feel the strongest love for people when they are not with us, we say Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
In Part 3 of this series I’ll focus mainly on ‘heart’ phrases for expressing emotions.