Many of us grew up with the values based standard of the ‘Ten Commandments’ i.e. they were one of the first instructions we received on “how not to mess up your life”. 

The Commandments came from Yahweh and were revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai (around 1500 BC), yet some historians have argued the commandments came from an earlier Egyptian religion (around 1800 BCE). Chapter 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead (a.k.a. the Papyrus of Ani) includes a list of things to which a man must swear in order to enter the afterlife. Learning how to navigate the afterlife states seems to be paramount in the texts. One major test was that the weight of their heart was compared to that of a feather, which appears to be a metaphor for the weight of the contents of the heart. “The heart is more than just an ingenious pump,” the Amidon brothers write in The Sublime Engine, “It is a metaphor of almost limitless profundity. It is an engine not just of blood but sublimity. We use it to signify our deepest thought and emotions when words alone do not suffice. We continue to use the heart as metaphor for love and courage and devotion without the slightest risk of confusion.”

As Egyptians believed if the person had committed sin during his or her lifetime, people’s hearts would “hang heavy” and they would be judged as such. The judgement was almost by themselves as the events emerge from the heart and the life review process occurs.


The language we use shapes our world.

And there is more to the heart than meets the eye…

In ‘The Sublime Engine’, it considers the how the heart has leapt from our bodies and into our culture through the language we use. And over the next three weeks I thought we could explore this a little more.

“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” Swami Sivananda

The heart also holds our hope, our dreams and maybe even our secrets. Some people even believe the heart can communicate through subtle realms with that of another.

The heart is the entry point of the mind into the body.

Whatever you believe, take a look at the way the heart is used in everyday speech, and it may well give you some insight into how you relate to your own ‘sublime engine’ too.

As the reader (that’s you) just begin to notice how often people use ‘the heart’ in their lives, not only to pump blood but to connect to something deeper within every one of us. The heart is where the secrets lie, and is one of the linguistic foundations of so many of our cultures.

Connecting from the heart

This is a great source of idioms, and full credit due here:

(text adjusted due to respect copyright)


after one’s own heart

– to be liked for agreeing with one’s own feelings or interests or ideas

“My wife loves comedy. She is a woman after my own heart.”


aching heart

– a feeling of sadness that one has when love has been lost or has faded

“The young woman spent the weekend alone with her aching heart.”


at heart

– basically, essentially, what one really is rather than what one appears to be

“The man seems to be angry all the time but actually he is a very gentle person at heart.”


bleeding heart

– someone who feels too much sympathy for people such as poor people or criminals etc.

“The man is a bleeding heart and is always asked by other people for money to help others.”


break (someone’s) heart

– to make someone feel sad or hopeless (usually because of love or a similar loss)

It broke my heart to lose my Dad at aged 4.


close to (someone’s) heart

– an idea or something that is important to you and that you care about

The plan to help artificial intelligence understand communication is close to my heart.


cross one’s heart and hope to die

– to say or promise that what you have said is true (often used by children)

“I promise that I will meet you tomorrow. Cross my heart and hope to die.”


die of a broken heart

– to die of emotional distress, to suffer from emotional distress (often from a failed romance)

“The man almost died of a broken heart when he was a teenager.”


do (someone’s) heart good

– to make someone feel good, to make someone healthy

“It does one’s heart good to get some exercise every day.”


do (something) in a heartbeat

– to do something almost immediately if you have the chance

“I will change jobs in a heartbeat if I have the chance.”


eat one’s heart out

– to feel much jealousy about something, to feel bitter anguish or grief about something

“You can eat your heart out but I will not give you a piece of this chocolate cake.”

The pain from the man’s sorrow is eating his heart out.


find it in one’s heart to (do something)

– to have the courage or compassion to do something

“I could not find it in my heart to tell the young woman that she could not continue to work at our company.”


follow one’s heart

– to act according to one’s feelings

“The boy followed his heart and decided to study music at school.”


from the bottom of one’s heart

– with great feeling, sincerely

“The girl thanked the man from the bottom of her heart for saving her dog’s life.”


get to the heart of (something)

– to understand the most important or essential thing about something

“It took a long time but we finally got to the heart of the problem with the new computer.”


have a big heart

– to be very kind or generous or helpful

The man has a big heart and he will always try to help other people.


have a change of heart

– to change the way one feels or thinks about something

“I had a change of heart and I decided to go to a movie with my friend.”


Have a heart!

– Don’t be unkind or do something mean or cruel!

“Have a heart,” I told my supervisor when he said that I must work during the weekend.


have a heart of gold

– to be kind or generous or friendly

“My grandmother has a heart of gold and she is always willing to help a stranger.”


have a heart of stone

– to be cold and unfriendly

The man who murdered his family has a heart of stone.


have a heart-to-heart talk with (someone)

– to have a sincere and intimate talk with someone

“I had a heart-to-heart talk with my girlfriend last evening.”


have a soft spot in one’s heart for (someone or something)

– to be fond of someone or something

“My grandfather always had a soft spot in his heart for his youngest child.”


heart and soul

– with all of one’s energy, with all of one’s efforts

“The girl loved her boyfriend heart and soul.”

“My friend is putting his heart and soul into his new job.”


heart bleeds for (someone)

– to feel sympathy for someone

“My heart bleeds for the family who lost their father in the accident.”


heart goes out to (someone)

– to feel great sympathy for someone

“My heart goes out to the victims of the hurricane.”


heart is dead set against (something)

– to be totally against something

“My mother’s heart is dead set against my plan to go to art school.”


heart is in one’s mouth

– one feels very nervous or frightened and has strong emotions about something

“My heart was in my mouth when I saw the little boy standing on the ladder.”


heart is in the right place

– to be kindhearted or sympathetic, to have good intentions (even if the results may be bad)

“Although the girl makes a lot of mistakes her heart is in the right place.”


heart is not in (something)

– to not really want to do what you are doing

“The boy’s heart was not in the swimming club so he quit the team.”


heart is set on (something)

– to want something very much

“The little boy’s heart is set on getting a dog for his birthday.”


heart misses/skips a beat

– one is startled or excited from surprise or joy or fright

“My heart skipped a beat when I heard my name on the radio.”


heart stands still

– to be very frightened or worried about something

“My heart stood still when the truck almost hit our car.”


heart to heart

– candid, intimate

“Having a heart to heart enabled us to open up to each other.”


heartbeat away from (something)

– the next person to take over someone’s position if they die

“The prince is a heartbeat away from becoming the next king of his country.”


heavy heart

– a feeling of being weighed down with sorrow, a sad feeling

“We left the meeting with a heavy heart when we heard that our boss would soon leave the company because of illness.”


in one’s heart of hearts

– suggestative of knowing something at the deepest conceptual level of ‘knowing’

“In my heart of hearts I know that I will soon have to change jobs.”


know (something) by heart (or learn something by heart)

– to know something perfectly, to have memorized something

“The little boy knows many stories by heart.”


lose heart

– to feel discouraged because of failure, to lose the hope of success

“I tried not to lose heart even though I had failed my driver’s exam for the second time.”


near to (someone’s) heart

– an idea or something that is important to you and that you care about

“The man’s collection of books is very near to his heart.”


The heart symbol has come to mean ‘love’, but as you can see it also goes beyond that into expressing our hopes and dreams.

The heart almost talks to us, when you know the language it is using. And right now I would say this symbol is used more than ever before by marketers to elicit an emotional response.

Even more idioms:

Here is the final selection for your perusal…


win (someone’s) heart

– to do nice things for someone to make him or her love you, to have the qualities to make you like something – music or art or a book

“The young man won the girl’s heart by his kind and caring attitude toward her.”


not have the heart to do (something)

– to be unwilling to say or do something that may hurt or upset others

“I did not have the heart to tell the woman that soon she may lose her job.”


open one’s heart to (someone)

– to talk about one’s feelings honestly, to confide in someone

“The woman suddenly opened her heart to me after I began talking to her on the bus.”


pour one’s heart out (to someone)

– to tell all of one’s hopes or fears or feelings to someone

“My friend poured her heart out to me when we went to the coffee shop last evening.”


search one’s heart/soul

– to study one`s reasons and acts, to try to discover if one has been fair and honest about something

“I searched my soul to try and discover why my girlfriend had left me.”


set one’s heart against (something)

– to turn against something, to become totally against something

“From the beginning, my friend set his heart against my proposal for having a birthday party for our teacher.”


set one’s heart on (something)

– to select something as one’s goal

“The young runner set his heart on winning the marathon.”


sick at heart

– very sad or upset about something

“The woman was sick at heart over the illness of her cat.”


strike at the heart of (something)

– to do something that damages or destroys the basic idea or way of doing something that is very important to someone or to a group

“The decision to change the law struck at the heart of how the people wanted to live.”


take heart

– to be encouraged, to be brave

“The father took heart in the fact that his son was still going to university even though he was failing most of his courses.”


take (something) to heart

– to be strongly affected by something that someone says to you, to take something seriously, to be upset by something

“I did not expect my friend to take my criticism to heart when I complained that he was always late.”


to one’s heart’s content

– as much as one wants

“The little boy was able to play in the water to his heart’s content.”


tug at (someone’s) heartstrings

– to make someone feel very sad, to make someone feel great sympathy for someone else

“Seeing the young boy and his dog tugged at my heartstrings.”


warm the cockles of (someone’s) heart

– to make someone feel warm and happy

“The ending of the movie warmed the cockles of my heart.”


way to (someone’s) heart

– the best way to please someone or make them like you

“The way to my grandfather’s heart was through his stomach as he always liked good food.”


wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve

– to show one’s feelings openly

“The man wore his heart on his sleeve when he talked about his sick son.”


with all one’s heart (and soul)

– with all one’s energy and feeling

“I tried with all my heart to get my friend a job at my company.”


young at heart

– doing things that usually younger people enjoy (usually used for an older person)

“The older couple were young at heart and they had much fun together.”

Hope you enjoyed expanding your mind into your heart through language, and vice versa.


So, why am I including this here?

Well, explore your own heart for yourself and you may well find the material you’ve been looking for when it comes to writing your own comedy.