Struck a Chord: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
December 20, 2023

The idiom "struck a chord" refers to anything that resonates emotionally or intellectually with someone. When something "strikes a chord," it typically evokes a strong emotional response or sparks a realization. This can happen through words, music, actions, or even visuals. It's like hitting the right note that makes someone feel a connection or have a sudden, strong understanding of something.

In short:

  • "Struck a chord" means causing an emotional or intellectual impact on someone.
  • It's about hitting the right note that resonates deeply with someone's feelings or thoughts.

What Does "Struck a Chord" Mean?

The phrase "struck a chord" is about hitting an emotional or intellectual sweet spot. When you say something has "struck a chord," it usually means it has touched you emotionally or made you think deeply. The term suggests a strong, immediate impact, almost like a musical chord that rings true and resonates.

Let's dig deeper into its key meanings and how it's used:

  • The phrase means causing a strong emotional or intellectual reaction.
  • It's often used when something — a story, a piece of music, or even a simple comment — resonates deeply with your feelings or thoughts.
  • "Struck a chord" can be both positive and negative. Something could strike a happy chord or a painful one.
  • The idiom can be used in many settings, like casual conversations, business meetings, or academic discussions.
  • Other phrases that mean something similar include "hit home," "resonated with me," or "made an impact."

Where Does "Struck a Chord" Come From?

The phrase “struck a chord” is believed to have originated from the literal use of striking a chord on a musical instrument. The term “chord” in its musical sense can be traced back to 1694, as mentioned in “A Treatise of the Natural Grounds and Principles of Harmony” by William Holder. The phrase was used to describe the harmonious sound produced when a chord of a musical instrument was struck.

Historical Example

The idiomatic use of the phrase “struck a chord,” meaning to evoke an emotional response or resonate with someone, dates back to the early 1800s. An early instance of this usage can be found in an article titled “The Gossip,” published in the Boston Weekly Magazine on August 6, 1803. The article states:

"I am now in perfect good humour with all the world, and I will not, by peeping into these letters, run the risk of striking a chord, which not being in unison with my present feelings, might put the whole machine out of tune."

10 Examples of "Struck a Chord" in Sentences

To help you better understand how to use this phrase, let's look at some examples in different situations:

  • God forbid, if anything ever struck a chord with me, it was that incident.
  • Her emotional speech about climate change struck a chord with many people in the audience.
  • The lyrics of the new hit song struck a chord with fans who have gone through break-ups.
  • The way he struggled to put food on the table for his family struck a chord with me.
  • His sincere apology struck a chord with her, and she decided to forgive him.
  • Reading the novel about a young girl's journey to self-discovery struck a chord with many teenagers.
  • It’s cool how the band’s new song struck a chord with many people of different ages.
  • To sum it up, the keynote speaker’s message about environmental conservation truly struck a chord with the audience.
  • The politician's focus on affordable healthcare struck a chord with voters, leading to his election win.
  • The latest technological advancements in my field have really struck a chord with me; they’re right in my wheelhouse.

Examples of "Struck a Chord" in Pop Culture

This idiom also pops up often in popular culture, indicating something that resonates strongly with people.

Here are some examples:

  • In the book “Quinn the Eskimo — Bob Dylan’s Nonsense Song Struck a Chord” by Michael Hann, it is discussed how Bob Dylan’s song “Quinn the Eskimo” struck a chord with many listeners, despite Dylan confessing he didn’t know what it was about.
  • An online article titled “Learn Not Blame: how a Grassroots Campaign Struck a Chord” discusses how a campaign that says blaming professionals when healthcare goes wrong poisons efforts to learn from what happened.
  • The TV show “My So-Called Life” defined the grunge era and struck a chord with 90s kids with its diverse cast, memorable catchphrases, and heartfelt stories.
  • An online article from Forbes, "Fall Out Boy’s Cover Of ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ Struck A Chord On YouTube But Not With Critics," talks about how Fall Out Boy’s cover of Billy Joel’s song resonated with YouTube viewers but failed to impress critics.

Synonyms: Other Ways to Say "Struck a Chord"

If you're looking for other ways to express the same idea, here are some options:

Check these out:

  • Hit home
  • Resonated
  • Made an impact
  • Touched a nerve
  • Hit the mark
  • Spoke to
  • Rang true
  • Made you think
  • Felt relatable
  • Connected with

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Struck a Chord":

  • What does "struck a chord" mean?

"Struck a chord" means resonating emotionally or intellectually with someone. This phrase is used to describe something—a statement, idea, or experience—that deeply connects or feels relatable to an individual.

  • How can I use "struck a chord" in a sentence?

You can use this phrase as a verb in a sentence to show something that resonated with you or someone else. For example, "Her speech about mental health struck a chord with many people."

  • Does the phrase have literal and figurative meanings?

Yes, the phrase has both literal and figurative meanings. Literally, it refers to striking a musical chord on an instrument like a guitar or piano. Figuratively, it means something resonates emotionally or intellectually with someone.

  • What's the origin of the phrase?

The phrase "struck a chord" likely comes from music, where striking a chord produces a harmonious sound. The figurative meaning extends this to describe something that resonates with people on an emotional or intellectual level.

  • Is this phrase positive or negative?

Generally, "struck a chord" is used in a positive sense to indicate that something resonated in a meaningful way. However, it can also be used in situations where something negative resonates strongly.

  • Can businesses use this phrase in marketing?

Yes, businesses can use this phrase in marketing to show that their product or message connects with their target audience on a deeper level.

  • Can it be used to describe group experiences?

Definitely. The phrase can be used to talk about something that resonates with a group of people, as in "The speaker's message about teamwork struck a chord with the employees."

  • Is this phrase used in pop culture?

Yes, the phrase often appears in reviews of movies, books, or music to indicate that the work resonated with audiences or critics.

  • Does it always imply a deep emotional impact?

Not necessarily. While the phrase often suggests a strong emotional or intellectual connection, it can also refer to a more casual recognition or agreement.

  • Is "struck a chord" interchangeable with "resonated"?

Mostly, yes. Both phrases imply that something has made an impact or found agreement, but "struck a chord" might suggest a more emotional connection than "resonated."

Final Thoughts About "Struck a Chord"

Understanding the phrase "struck a chord" can add depth to your language use. It's a versatile term that can be applied in many scenarios, from personal conversations to professional settings and even pop culture discussions.

Here's a quick recap:

  • The phrase "struck a chord" often describes something that resonates emotionally or intellectually with people.
  • It's a versatile phrase that can be used in various situations, including personal stories, public speeches, and marketing campaigns.
  • Whether you're talking about a movie connected with its audience or a personal experience resonating with you, this phrase can help convey the impact more vividly.

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