Cross My (or your) Heart

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The full version of this idiom is 'Cross my heart and hope to die.'

Meaning of Idiom 'Cross My heart'

Cross my heart is an emphatic pledge that one is telling the truth, sometimes said while using one hand to make an imaginary X over the heart. 1,2


Cross my heart and hope to die is an idiom most often used by children. While a person can swear to be telling the truth by saying "cross my heart," one can also ask for a promise from another person:

"I won't tell the teacher I helped do your homework," said Sally. "Cross your heart?" said Billy. "Cross my heart and hope to die," replied Sally.


This children's idiom probably derived from the Christian practice of making the sign of the cross over one's breast in order to invoke God's presence and ask for blessing, assistance, etc. Although this practice is often thought to be unique to Catholicism, in truth, Christians began making this sign very early, even though such a practice is never mentioned in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

The idiom itself first appeared in the early 1900's. 3

1. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.
2. Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.
3. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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