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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

To Take Something To Heart

Idiom: to take __  to heart; used as a verb

First Example:
Chrissie: Can you believe Patti said that?
Steven: What did she say?
Chrissie: She said that I should just quit the tennis tournament now so that I'm not embarrassed later. She said she's going to kick my butt!
Steven: Oh, you shouldn't take anything she says to heart.  She's just very competitive and loves talking trash* to her opponents.
Chrissie: Really?  She was so aggressive that she kind of scared me.
Steven: She's not going to hurt you, and I'm sure you're not the only person she has said that to.  Just focus on how good it's going to feel when you prove her wrong.
Chrissie: Yeah... I guess I am a more experienced player.
Steven: There you go.  Keep telling yourself that!

Meaning: When people "take something to heart," it means that they consider a comment as being personally significant.  Usually used with a noun or "it" in the middle, the expression is often used with a negative when telling someone not to take something personally.  In the example above, Chrissie is worried about Patti's comment, but Steven says that Patti is always aggressive when she competes, and that Chrissie shouldn't take her comments to heart.  The expression can also be used without a negative, as can be seen in the following example from an email: 

Hi Lou,

Thanks for your feedback on my behavior at work.  At first, I got a little defensive after you told me I "shouldn't be preaching at work."  I thought you were attacking my religious beliefs, and my feelings were hurt.  But then I thought about how I would feel if someone was forcing their beliefs on me at work, and I realized that you were not attacking me personally; I was just making you uncomfortable!  So I took your comments to heart, and I'm sorry I made you uncomfortable. I will try not to talk about religion at work any more, and if I'm ever making you feel uncomfortable again, please let me know.


In this example, Maureen is writing an email to Lou thanking him for feedback on her behavior.  In the email, she says that his comment about preaching at work initially hurt her feelings, but that she eventually understood, and that she took his comments to heart.  This means that she applied them to herself and it made her change her opinion and/or behavior.

*Note: to "talk trash" means to speak in negative, insulting or abusive ways; it is commonly used when speaking to competitors.

This idiom is from LSI's new edition of "Reading Horizons," which will be used in the Level 6 Reading classes. For more information, please visit   

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