phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

My heart in my throat

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 22, 2006

In Reply to: My heart in my throat posted by Miri Barak on March 21, 2006

: : : I would like to know what exactly is the feeling he expresses in this:
: : : He hears that his daughter is not alive and this is his reaction. is it fear or sorrow, or both?

: : : Thank you very much

: : To have one's heart in one's throat, or in one's mouth, is often used as though it were purely some sort of figurative expression. But it comes from an actual sensation resulting from the emotional state of fear or anxiety. So the father in your quotation is reacting with fear and anxiety, if the author is using the expression in the normal way. The OED gives, as its first relevant citation, "1548 UDALL Erasm. Par. Luke xxiii. 199 Hauyng their herte at their verai mouth for feare, they did not belieue that it was Iesus." SS

: thank you for your complete answer

Actually my answer was not so very complete. I once read a fairly explicit account of how the sensation of having your heart in your throat arises, but I can't remember any details. However, I'm not sure the sensation cannot occur with any emotion other than fear or anxiety. Our emotions are tied to bodily reactions by the chemical changes that cause the reactions. Our names for emotions are assigned according to what we think caused them; but the body doesn't care about that. I cannot rule out the possibility that the father here could feel the sensations associated with fear or anxiety when his emotional state was instead desolation. But I would be greatly surprised. .SS.