Leap of Faith: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 16, 2023

The idiom "leap of faith" refers to the act of believing in or accepting something intangible, unprovable, or without empirical evidence. In other words, it's about taking a chance without solid assurance or guarantees of the outcome. It's a compelling metaphor for making decisions without having full knowledge of what might happen, thus requiring courage and belief in oneself or others.

In short:

  • The idiom "leap of faith" represents a daring step or decision taken with trust in its positive outcome, despite the lack of evidence or certainty.
  • Its literal sense would imply jumping into or towards something based on faith alone.
  • Taking a "leap of faith" may involve trusting your instincts, relying on your gut feelings, or putting faith in others or in a higher power.

What Does "Leap of Faith" Mean?

The phrase "leap of faith" is used to express the act of believing in something without having physical or concrete proof. It could be a belief in an idea, a person, a spiritual entity, or a prospective outcome of a situation.

Key aspects of the idiom's meaning:

  • "Leap of faith" signifies the action of accepting something without tangible evidence or proof.
  • It often entails trust in self, others, a higher power, or the positive potential of a given situation.
  • You can use it when making a significant decision that involves uncertainty or risk.
  • The phrase is derived from spiritual contexts, signifying a belief in God or religious doctrines without concrete proof.
  • Some similar expressions to "leap of faith" include "take a chance," "take a risk," and "go out on a limb."

Where Does "Leap of Faith" Come From?

The expression "leap of faith" comes from the Latin phrase "saltus fidei" and was introduced by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard as a metaphor for religious belief in God. Kierkegaard emphasized that God is a spiritual, not physical, entity and exists in a realm completely separate from the material world that humans inhabit.

To truly embrace spirituality and believe in God, Kierkegaard argued that individuals must take a courageous "leap of faith," which involves trusting in the existence of a higher power without tangible evidence or rational explanations.

Historical Examples

"When under the guidance of Copernicus we took the leap of faith, and in imagination placed ourselves at the real center, the sun, then the puzzle was solved; it ceased to be a puzzle, it became order and law and beauty."

- Christian Faith and Life, 1910

"Moreover, the very assumption that reality can always be measured, that nothing exists which cannot be seen, felt, tasted or touched is a daring leap of faith."

- Creation: A Scientist’s Choice by Zola Levitt, 1976

10 Examples of "Leap of Faith" in Sentences

Here are ten examples of "leap of faith" in sentences and different contexts:

  • Deciding to take a shot at starting my own business felt like a huge leap of faith.
  • Investing all my savings into the stock market was a huge leap of faith.
  • She posed a question that required a leap of faith to answer honestly.
  • Agreeing to marry him after only a few months of dating was a leap of faith.
  • He was on a losing streak but took a leap of faith and bet all his money on the next game.
  • Taking a leap of faith, we are moving forward with the project.
  • I knew it was a leap of faith to buy a house in a neighborhood that hadn't been developed yet, but I had a good feeling about it.
  • Deciding to become a full-time artist was a leap of faith she had to take.
  • Whether or not the project will be successful is uncertain, but we're taking a leap of faith and proceeding.
  • She took a leap of faith and ventured into a new career to get over a failed relationship.

Examples of "Leap of Faith" in Pop Culture

Due to its universal application to scenarios involving risk and uncertainty, the phrase "leap of faith" finds its way into pop culture, including movies, TV shows, and music.

Here are a few examples:

  • The song "Leap of Faith" by Bruce Springsteen uses the phrase to describe the risk of opening oneself up to love.
  • "Leap of Faith" is a delightful novel by Candy Harper. It brings readers back into the world of Faith, a relatable protagonist who finds herself facing a series of boy dilemmas, friendship dramas, and the hilarious antics of her eccentric grandmothers.
  • "Jump: Take the Leap of Faith to Achieve Your Life of Abundance" is a 2016 book by American television host Steve Harvey. Using his own life stories and thoughts, Steve Harvey shares a bunch of inspiring messages about spirituality in a warm and honest way.
  • "Leap of Faith" is a 1992 movie featuring Steve Martin and Debra Winger. Steve plays Jonas Nightengale, a charismatic con man disguised as a faith healer.

Other Ways to Say "Leap of Faith"

While "leap of faith" is a popular and widely recognized idiom, other English phrases can convey a similar meaning.

Here are a few examples:

  • Take a chance
  • Take a risk
  • Roll the dice
  • Take a gamble
  • Go out on a limb
  • Throw caution to the wind
  • Trust your gut
  • Step into the unknown

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Leap of Faith":

  • What does "leap of faith" mean?

This idiom represents a daring step or decision taken with trust in its positive outcome, despite the absence of evidence or certainty.

  • What is the origin of the "leap of faith"?

The term "leap of faith" has philosophical and religious origins and is often attributed to the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, although he didn't use the exact term.

  • How can I use "leap of faith" in a sentence?

You can use "leap of faith" to describe a risky or uncertain decision or action, like "I took a leap of faith and made an offer on the old farmhouse, hoping I could renovate it into my dream home."

  • Is "leap of faith" used only in religious contexts?

No, while "leap of faith" originated from religious and philosophical contexts, it is widely used in various scenarios to denote any decision or action taken despite uncertainties or risks.

  • Are there other idioms similar to "leap of faith"?

Yes, similar idioms include "take a chance," "take a risk," "roll the dice," and "go out on a limb."

  • Does it have a  negative connotation?

Yes, "leap of faith" can be used in a negative context if the outcome of the action or decision was unfavorable. For example, "Her leap of faith in investing in the new company proved disastrous."

  • Is it appropriate to use "leap of faith" in formal writing?

Yes, "leap of faith" can be used in both formal and informal writing, given it suits the context.

  • Does "leap of faith" imply a physical jump?

No, "leap of faith" is a figurative expression. It represents a risky decision or action rather than a physical jump.

  • Can one use it in a personal context?

Yes, "leap of faith" can be used in a personal context to describe any decision or action taken on faith or trust, despite uncertainties.

  • Can "leap of faith" be associated with success?

Yes, a "leap of faith" can be associated with success if the action or decision leads to a positive outcome. However, it's important to remember that it's often used to describe risky or uncertain actions or decisions.

Final Thoughts About "Leap of Faith"

Life is full of uncertainties, and sometimes we have to take leaps of faith to move forward. Whether it's making a career change, starting a new relationship, or simply trying something new, a leap of faith can often lead to personal growth and unexpected rewards.

Here's a quick summary:

  • "Leap of faith" signifies a decision or action taken with trust in its positive outcome, despite the absence of evidence or certainty.
  • The idiom is common in both religious and secular contexts.
  • You can use it to refer to personal or professional risks or uncertainties.
  • Similar idioms include "take a chance," "roll the dice," and "go out on a limb."

Remember, taking a "leap of faith" is often a crucial part of life's journey, leading us to new experiences and possibilities. So don't be afraid to take that leap!

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