In Reply to: Bless your heart posted by RRC on August 27, 2009 at 15:46:
: : : question: Type your question here: I am trying to find the origin of Bless your heart (bless your little heart?) and what it means . I gather in the South it isn't a positive thing. Thanks.
: : I don't know if this is original to Kentucky politics. But I heard state Senator Kathy W. Stein (D) -- in a pro-gay rights speech -- remark that you can say anything you want about someone as long as you add "bless his heart." She proceeded to talk about various lawmakers on the other side of the issue, ending each statement with "bless his heart" or "bless her heart."
: As with many phrases, it can be used literally/positively (God bless you) or dripping with sarcasm so anywhere from "isn't that sweet" to "I pity you, you poor fool".
: There's a mortgage firm in Dallas, Texas that uses it as humorous catchphrase in their commercials (Still paying rent? Well, bless your heart.). Here's a YouTube link to one where he describes how his wife uses the phrase:
In my experience of the UK, certainly among the young (of which, sadly, I am no longer one, but I meet a fair number at work) it is used mostly patronizingly. For example: if someone has done something that another deems inadequate in some way, they might greet the 'achievement' with 'did you do that? Bless your heart'.
Rather in the way one might treat a not very bright child.