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Meaning and Origin of the Phrase 'Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve'

Ashmeet Bagga Mar 15, 2020
Every individual is different when it comes to displaying their true emotions or their intent. But there are some who wear their heart on their sleeve. Here, we will talk more about the idiomatic expression wear your heart on your sleeve, its interpretation, origin, and few examples.
"I don't particularly wear my heart on my sleeve, you know, or tell people how I feel all the time."
―Daniel Radcliffe
Every decision that you take has a positive as well as negative aspect, certain times the positives outweigh the negatives and vice-versa. But when it comes to being open about our feelings, there isn't a clear answer. Some individuals are innately more expressive about their feelings and opinions than others.
Generally women are more forthcoming about their emotions than men. Since childhood boys are taught not to weep and to 'man up'. This is the reason why few men tend to hide their innermost thoughts.
The nurturing debate is relevant here too, children who grew up in an environment where feelings are not openly discussed, tend to suppress them when they grow up.
Many times we meet people who take years to open up about their personal lives or few individuals who pretend to be somebody else the whole time. Later they expose their true color when their motive or some agenda is fulfilled. So what does wear your heart on your sleeve mean?


Wear your heart on your sleeve means to exhibit one's feelings openly. It means to display one's emotions habitually and openly rather than keeping them to yourself. So if you wear your heart on your sleeve that means you show your emotions openly and you don't tend to hide your feelings.
It's very easy to read such people's face. Their face is like a mirror, one can easily guess if that person is happy or sad. They don't have any problem crying in public, such people are very sensitive. Also, people who wear their heart on their sleeves mean they get hurt very easily.
Someone who wears his heart on his sleeve is open and very honest, sometimes he/she is transparent and over sharer. Children are perfect example for this idiom, children are very expressive. They express excitement, sadness, anger, and happiness. It means they always wear their heart on their sleeve.

Origin Of Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve

This idiom first appeared in Shakespeare's Othello in the year 1604. One of the character from the play decided to act as if he was wearing his heart on his sleeve to pretend to be honest and faithful.
However, in medieval jousts, ladies of the court tied a piece of cloth or handkerchief around the arm of their beloved knight, who in return displayed their love for the lady.

Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve Examples

Example 1:
John: "Jim, you will never be a good bluff player if you wear your heart on your sleeve. Other players can easily make out if your cards are good or not by reading your reactions."
Example 2:
Samantha: "Because Charlotte always wears her heart on her sleeve, she easily gets hurt and betrayed."
Suppressing your emotions can lead to mental breakdown. On the other hand, being too open can lead one to feel insecure and vulnerable.
It is indeed healthier to wear your heart on your sleeve, but one important factor to consider is when to express yourself and to whom. If you feel that the listener has some hidden agenda or does not care about your welfare, then it would be best to exercise caution.