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11 Aug. To wear one’s heart upon one’s sleeve. What does this English expression mean?

This is a frequently used English expression which is not used in a literal sense as of course this would not be possible, instead it is used in a metaphorical context. If you would like to learn when it should be used then keep reading this article


The expression is used to denote that someone is being fully open. Generally it is used when someone is showing all their feelings in an open and public way and therefore opening themselves up to others.


The expression was coined by William Shakespeare in his play Othello in 1604. The first passage in which it can be found is said by the character Iago and reads;
“It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago:
In following him, I follow but myself;Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, ’tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.”


An example of the expression in usage can be found in an infamous quote from Margaret Thatcher. She is quoted to have proclaimed “to wear your heart on your sleeve isn’t a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best.”

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