Warm the cockles of one’s heart

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To warm the cockles of one’s heart is an idiom that dates back at least to the seventeenth  century. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the definition of the phrase warm the cockles of one’s heart, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To warm the cockles of one’s heart means to bestow a feeling of contentment, to kindle warm feelings in a person, especially of happiness and felicity. The term warm the cockles of one’s heart dates back to the mid-1600s, a time when scientific texts were often written in Latin. The Latin term cochleae cordis means ventricles of the heart, and most probably, the word cochleae was corrupted as cockles. This may have been a mistake made by the less learned, or a deliberate joke. Add in the fact that the bivalve mollusk known as a cockle is shaped somewhat like a heart, and the idea of the phrase cockles of one’s heart being more or less a joke gains credence. Related phrases are warms the cockles of one’s heart, warmed the cockles of one’s heart, warming the cockles of one’s heart.


WARM the cockles of your heart and keep the winter cold and chills away by tucking into a hearty bowl of soup such as a pea, zucchini and mint variety from Campbelltown’s Never Bean Fitter Cafe. (The Daily Telegraph)

And if you want to laugh and cheer and have the cockles of your heart warmed and wowed, you’d better hop on this thing before it’s gone. (The Tucson Weekly)

The Prince of Wales told parents, teachers and dignitaries yesterday that an Ebbw Vale charity “warmed the cockles of his heart”. (The South Wales Argus)

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