Keep your chin up

Keep your chin up is an idiom that dates from Victorian times. An idiom is a word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. British English idioms and American idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations to express ideas that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as in a blue moon, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom keep your chin up, when it appeared, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Keep your chin up is a reminder to stay positive, to stay cheerful in the face of adversity, to stay confident. The image is of one facing life squarely, with one’s head up and vision straight ahead. The idiom keep your chin up is an American expression which came about around the turn of the twentieth century and is similar in meaning to the British phrase keep a stiff upper lip. The idiom keep your chin up is often shortened to simply: chin up.


Keep moving, eat healthy and keep your chin up. (The Salisbury Post)

Of course, there are more mundane observations: the inability to wash, looking forward to a ‘good booze-up’ back in Britain, requests for chocolates, how French girls ‘wear hardly anything at all – just enough to cover up the so so’s’, and many calls to families back home to keep ‘your chin up’. (The Daily Mail)

God will make everything right and I will see you again … so let me implore you to keep your chin up. (The Chicago Daily Herald)

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