wear your heart on your sleeve

Discussion in 'English Only' started by chris_tvh, May 29, 2006.

  1. chris_tvh New Member

    Hi, i just came across this phrase: "You tend to wear your heart on your sleeve"
    Could any one pls explain what this means for me?
    Thanks heaps
  2. mjscott Senior Member

    If your heart is on your sleeve, it gets "damaged" just doing everyday functions. The term is used mostly to describe someone who falls in love quickly and is quickly hurt when no one notices that they are in love--or someone who does not hide emotions.
  3. rsweet

    rsweet Senior Member

    English, North America
    When knights fought each other during the Middle Ages, they would dedicate their performance to a woman of the court--usually someone they were in love with. To let their feelings be known to all, the knights pinned a handkerchief or a scarf belonging to the woman (a favor) onto their sleeves.
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Essentially, it means that your emotions and affections are clear for all to see.

    <<Popping on my moderator hat for a moment, chris, it would be helpful if in future you would take care to use capitals where appropriate and to avoid using chatspeak terms such as pls.>>
  5. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    I agree with Panjandrum. In British English, certainly, it usually means someone who will show their emotions and feelings for all to see. It is quite a well-used phrase and a rather lovely one, I think.
  6. comsci

    comsci Senior Member

    Taiwan, Vancouver(B.C.) and the Rockies
    Mandarin, Taiwan(Yankees 40 Wang)
    This phrase is somehow hard for an English learner to grasp on or to picture in mind. I mean "wear heart on sleeve?"(that's a bit absurd) I did a search on the web and it states "to show one's feelings clearly and openly by one's behaviour." I'm not quite sure if I have interpreted it correctly so I need your comments. Thank you all my friends.
  7. mjscott Senior Member


    You have probably seen this link above.

    My son was known as someone who wore his heart on his shirtsleeve. He would fall in love with young girls, and we all knew he was in love. He let it show, even if people would tease him, or if to do so would subject him to getting his heart broken. When his heart was broken, he didn't hide his wounds close to his chest in privacy--he still wore his heart on his shirtsleeve. Friends and family would tell him to "suck it up and be a man!"--he couldn't go around being broken-hearted over heartbreaking things all his life.

    Because he has been hurt by family and lovers, he has, for the past few years, begun hiding his heart from even the people that love him dearly! But maybe that was because those who don't wear their hearts on their shirtsleeves have absolutely no idea how very hurtful small things can be for someone who wears their heart on the outside, not the inside.
  8. comsci

    comsci Senior Member

    Taiwan, Vancouver(B.C.) and the Rockies
    Mandarin, Taiwan(Yankees 40 Wang)
    Hi mjscott, your example might set a good template for English learners who have problems with this particular phrase. My many thanks to you. :)
  9. aceclose New Member

    the phrase came from othello act 1 scene one 56-65. But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve For daws to peck at
  10. stranger in your midst

    stranger in your midst Senior Member

    English / Scotland
    For me it also has a gambling connotation. Although this is perhaps unintended, it might serve as an aid memoire.

    One can imagine a gambling cheat with cards up his sleeve. If he lets one show, then he is giving up his game and exposing his bluff.

    It also ties in nicely with 'keep your cards close to your chest', which figuartively means not displaying your emotions or objective.

    However, 'wear your heart on your sleeve' always also has a romantic connotation.
  11. VSPrasad Member

    Visakhapatnam, India
    India - English
    Also, pin one's heart on one's sleeve. Openly show one's feelings, especially amorous ones. For example, You can't help but see how he feels about her; he wears his heart on his sleeve. Shakespeare had it in Othello (1:1): "But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at."

    People who wear their heart on their sleeve express their emotions freely and openly, for all to see. They do not hold back their emotions, for good or for bad. They let things get to them too easily. They don't know how to let go of negative feelings and unhappiness.

    The phrase came about in the Middle Ages from the practice of young men and women drawing names out of a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear the name drawn on their sleeve for a while.

    It was also a former custom of tying a woman's favour to her lover's sleeve, thereby announcing their attachment.
  12. Bullwinkle1028 New Member

    New Orleans
    English - Yat
    I heard the following on radio this AM (Feb 12) : During Medieval festivals (in the era of courtly love), young women would write their names on slips of paper. Then, gentlemen would wear the name of their favorite on their sleeve, thus proclaiming their devotion.

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