Avoir le cœur sur la main

“Avoir le cœur sur la main”- French Idiom Meaning in English

What does “Avoir le cœur sur la main” mean? 

Avoir le cœur sur la main

The literal translation of this French idiom is ” To have the heart on the hand.”

In English we say ” To give the shirt off one’s back”, or “To have a heart of gold.”

This expression is known to date back to the 18th century and refers to the heart as the keeper of emotions. Therefore having your heart in your hand is a way of offering your feelings, emotions, generosity and solidarity.

Example of “Avoir le cœur sur la main” being used:

“Cette dame a le coeur sur la main; chaque année, elle offre des cadeaux aux enfants.”

“This woman is so generous; each year, she makes gifts for children.”


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What is an idiomatic expression anyway?
It is a phrase that, when translated directly, doesn’t make sense in another language. For example “A dime a dozen.” Translated into another language directly that would make no sense. This example is used to communicate when something is very common and not hard to come by.  Every language has idiomatic expressions, and some may argue that these are the expressions that REALLY make the language unique. Just memorizing vocabulary will not help you to learn these, you need to learn all of the idiomatic expressions.


For more idiomatic expressions and their meaning. Check out our blog!



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