Be Still My Heart: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 13, 2023

The idiom "be still my heart" is a poetic expression that conveys a sense of excitement or anticipation, often related to a romantic or sentimental situation.

In short:

"Be still my heart" is an expression of excitement or anticipation, often in romantic or sentimental contexts.

What Does "Be Still My Heart" Mean?

The phrase "be still my heart" is used to express an emotional reaction to a situation, typically one that involves excitement, anticipation, or strong feelings. It is often used in romantic contexts, such as when someone sees their crush or experiences a heartwarming moment. However, the idiom can also be applied to other situations that provoke a similar emotional response.

  • The phrase often reflects a sense of wonder, excitement, or awe.
  • It can be used to convey a romantic or sentimental feeling.
  • The idiom may also be used in non-romantic situations that evoke strong emotions.

There are several variations of this expression, such as "Oh, be still my beating heart" or "Calm down, my heart." These variations essentially convey the same meaning, with slight differences in tone or emphasis.

Where Does "Be Still My Heart" Come From?

The origin of the idiomatic phrase “be still my heart” traces back to 1697 in the work of the author John Dryden. The first use of the term appears as “my beating heart.” In classic English, this phrase was frequently regarded as poetic or literary in nature. In modern English, however, the expression is typically employed with a sarcastic tone to suggest that a circumstance is far less thrilling than what has been portrayed.

Historical Examples

"Be still, my heart; thou hast known worse than this."

- Homer, The Odyssey (translated by Alexander Pope)

"Be still, my heart, and weep!"

- Napoleon and Blücher, Luise Mühlbach, 1814

10 Examples of "Be Still My Heart" in Sentences

Here are ten examples of how "be still my heart" can be used in sentences:

  • Be still my heart. I can't believe I'm finally going on a date with my crush.
  • When she walked into the room, I thought, be still my heart, she looked absolutely stunning.
  • When he told me to keep up the good work, I whispered to myself, be still my heart.
  • The sunset was so breathtaking, and I couldn't help but think, oh, be still my beating heart.
  • The cool breeze and bright sunshine, oh, be still my heart; it's perfect weather for a picnic.
  • As I watched my child perform on stage, I thought, calm down, my heart, I couldn't be prouder.
  • Be still my heart. Did he really create multiple burner accounts just to stalk me online?
  • I was so touched by the surprise party my friends threw for me, I thought, be still my heart.
  • Be still my heart. I just logged in and saw that my favorite band is playing a surprise show tonight!
  • Be still my heart. I never thought I'd see the one that got away again!

Examples of "Be Still My Heart" in Pop Culture

"Be still my heart" has also made its way into popular culture, appearing in songs, movies, and television shows.

Some examples include:

  • The Postal Service's song "Be Still My Heart" from their 2005 album "We Will Become Silhouettes."
  • An episode of the television series "ER" titled "Be Still My Heart" (Season 6, Episode 13).
  • A line in the film "Fatal Beauty" (1987) where Rita Rizzoli (played by Whoopi Goldberg) sarcastically uses the phrase when talking to Zach Jaeger (played by James Le Gros).

Other/Different Ways to Say "Be Still My Heart":

There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar sentiment as "Be still my heart."

Some of these include:

  • My heart is racing!
  • Oh, my heart!
  • My heart can't take it!
  • My heart is aflutter!
  • My heart is pounding!

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Be Still My Heart":

  • What does "be still my heart" mean?

It is an expression of excitement or anticipation, often used in romantic or sentimental contexts.

  • Where does "be still my heart" come from?

The origin is unclear, but it has roots in English literature and poetry, with similar expressions found in works by Homer and Shakespeare.

  • Can "be still my heart" be used in non-romantic situations?

Yes, it can be used in any situation that evokes strong emotions, such as excitement, anticipation, or awe.

  • What are some alternative ways to say, "Be still my heart"?

Some alternatives include "My heart is racing!", "Oh, my heart!", "My heart can't take it!", "My heart is aflutter!" and "My heart is pounding!"

  • Is "be still my heart" a common expression?

While it may not be as common as some other idioms, "Be still my heart" is still recognizable and understood by most English speakers.

  • Can "be still my heart" be used sarcastically?

Yes, the expression can be used sarcastically to mock someone or something that is deemed unimpressive or uninteresting.

  • What is an example of "be still my heart" used in literature?

In Homer's "The Iliad," the phrase "Ah, heart, you beat as though you would leap out of my breast" conveys a similar sentiment to "be still my heart."

  • Can "be still my heart" be used in formal writing or speech?

It depends on the context. While it may be suitable for informal or creative writing, it may not be appropriate for highly formal or academic writing.

  • How to use this idiom in a sentence?

It can be used as a standalone phrase or incorporated into a sentence, such as "When I saw the beautiful painting, I thought to myself, "Be still my heart."

  • Does "be still my heart" have any negative connotations?

No, "Be still my heart" generally does not carry any negative connotations. However, like any expression, the tone and context in which it is used can impact its perceived meaning.

Final Thoughts About "Be Still My Heart"

In summary, "Be still my heart" is a versatile and expressive idiom that can be used in a variety of contexts to convey strong emotions, particularly excitement, and anticipation. Its origins can be traced back to classic literature, and it remains a recognizable and widely understood phrase in modern English.

Some key aspects of the idiom include:

  • Used to express excitement or anticipation
  • Roots in English Literature and Poetry
  • Appropriate for romantic and non-romantic situations
  • It may have sarcastic connotations

With its rich history and adaptable usage, "be still my heart" remains an enduring and evocative expression in the English language.

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