Keep Your Chin Up – Idiom, Meaning and Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Keep your chin up means staying cheerful and optimistic during hard times or when life just keeps knocking you down. If a friend is going through a rough patch, lean in and say, “Keep your chin up; I promise better days are coming.”

Idioms like keep your chin up are figurative sayings and affirmations, but this one sits close to its literal meaning. The image of physically holding your chin high symbolizes strength and resiliency.

I’ll explain the figurative meaning behind this phrase with its origin, then share a few sentence examples to help you understand its usage. Read on!

Keep Your Chin Up Meaning

Keep Your Chin Up – Idiom Meaning and Origin

To keep your chin up means to stay hopeful and not let a challenging situation bring you down. It’s a heartening reminder that tough times don’t last forever, but tough people do. Nowadays, you might also encounter a shortened version, chin up, in common usage.

Keep Your Chin Up Origin and Etymology

Keep Your Chin Up Ngram
Keep your chin up usage trend.

The origin of the expression keep your chin up is distinctly American, and it emerged sometime during the late 1800s to early 1900s. This phrase conveys the message: “Hold your head high and remain optimistic, even in difficult times.” Meanwhile, the UK has its own idiom from the Victorian era: keep a stiff upper lip.

An early printed use of keep your chin up can be found in a Pennsylvanian newspaper named The Evening Democrat. An excerpt from the 1900s reads: “Keep your chin up. Don’t take your troubles to bed with you—hang them on a chair with your trousers or drop them in a glass of water with your teeth.”

Keep Your Chin Up Synonyms

  • Stay positive
  • Don’t get down
  • Hold your head high
  • Stay hopeful
  • Look on the bright side

Examples of Keep Your Chin Up in a Sentence

Keep Your Chin Up – Idiom Meaning and Origin 1

  • Even when the project failed, Robert told his team to keep their chins up and to try again.
  • “Keep your chin up; everything happens for a reason,” she whispered to herself.
  • It’s hard to keep my chin up with so much happening in the world right now.
  • When times were rough, his mother’s advice was always, “Keep your chin up, son.”
  • Even in the pouring rain, Brieanne kept her chin up and finished the five-mile marathon.
  • I know it’s tough now, but keep your chin up. Tomorrow is a new day.
  • Despite all the rejections, he kept his chin up and finally landed a literary agent.
  • My sister wears a necklace that reminds her to always keep her chin up.
  • In publishing, you have to keep your chin up and not let the bad days win.
  • “Every time life throws a curveball, keep your chin up and swing,” the coach advised.

Chin Up, You’ve Reached the End!

Keep your chin up is more than just an idiom; it’s a life mantra, a beacon of optimism in a sometimes stormy world. It’s definitely an idiom we could hear more of these days! Now, keep your chin up and read more of my idiomatic guides.