My heart is in the right place
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Reader question: What does "my heart is in the right place" mean?

My comments: It means there's something wrong with you.

I'm kidding. If your heart is in the right place, you're fine. You're good. You're kind. You have a good conscience. You're perfectly1 alright.

Perhaps not perfectly alright, for whenever people say your heart is in the right place, they must be discussing something annoying, rude or intolerable about you.

They might imply as much at any rate if they do not explicitly2 say so. You see, the phrase – a useful idiom it is – is never left standing3 on its own. There's usually a preceding "although" or a "but" trailing behind. Take this song (Love me for me) by Ashlee Simpson, for example:

No I didn't really mean to say that

I'm mixed up, so what


My head is spinning but my heart is in the right place

Got the picture? I may have said something, but I don't mean it. One way of looking at it is that I'm good at heart and so you can trust me. Another way of looking at is, of course, that "my heart is in the right place" admits to some wrongdoing – in this case, saying things that might have hurt.

In short, "one's heart is in the right place" means they're good even though they may not appear to be so. That's the full picture.

Here are media examples:

1. A headline: America's heart is in the right place – usually.

- (January 6, 2007)

2. His heart is in the right place, but he can't seem to do anything right.

- The Conservative Case Against Bush, Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2007.

3. This movie's heart is in the right place, which is one way of saying it's terrible.

- Nina's Heavenly Delights, New York Post, November 30, 2007.


1 perfectly 8Mzxb     
  • The witnesses were each perfectly certain of what they said.证人们个个对自己所说的话十分肯定。
  • Everything that we're doing is all perfectly above board.我们做的每件事情都是光明正大的。
2 explicitly JtZz2H     
  • The plan does not explicitly endorse the private ownership of land. 该计划没有明确地支持土地私有制。
  • SARA amended section 113 to provide explicitly for a right to contribution. 《最高基金修正与再授权法案》修正了第123条,清楚地规定了分配权。 来自英汉非文学 - 环境法 - 环境法
3 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
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