Bless Your (His/Her) Heart

Meaning of Idiom ‘Bless Your Heart’

Bless your heart is a spoken expression of good wishes, endearment, affection, fondness, sympathy. It can also be a way of saying someone is a good person or did a good thing. In the Southern United States, where it is used most often, it can mean all of these things. However, it often is a way of forgiving or excusing someone’s perceived shortcomings, often mental, or of forgiving a mistake. 1Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.,2Pare, May. Body Idioms and More: For Learners of English. United States?: Mayuree Pare, 2005.

Usage

When used in the Southern U.S. with the latter intention given above, this expression is a way of saying “he/she is a good person and I/we like them despite the fact they (have a shortcoming/made a mistake). In this way, it is meant as a term of endearment after pointing out someone’s flaws.

Examples Of Use

“I can’t believe you spent so much money on my gift! Bless your heart!”

“It rained on my way to work this morning and I got soaking wet. I spent the whole day shivering,” said Patricia. “Bless your heart,” said Aunt Shirley.

“Uncle Bob is down with the flu so I brought him some groceries and cleaned his house.” Well, bless your heart!”

“Bless his heart, Wesley is going to fix my roof for free.”

“Wesley fell off the roof again. He’s so accident prone, bless his heart.”

Origin

Used since at least the first half of the 1800’s.

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
2. Pare, May. Body Idioms and More: For Learners of English. United States?: Mayuree Pare, 2005.