have one's heart in the right place

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English[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (file)

Verb[edit]

have one's heart in the right place (third-person singular simple present has one's heart in the right place, present participle having one's heart in the right place, simple past and past participle had one's heart in the right place)

  1. (idiomatic) To have good intentions.
    My brother doesn't always do the right thing, but he has his heart in the right place.
    • 1823, Andrew Cherry, The Travellers[1]:
      Mr. Cherry has thought proper to place most of his compliments to England in the mouth of an Irishman, a facetious gentleman, full of generosity and blunders, “with a head that may err, but a heart in the right place"
    • 1835, Thomas Chalmers, On the Evils which the Established Church in Edinburgh Has Already Suffered [] [2]:
      No one amongst them, as far as I know, with his heart in the right place, stood up and asked in council, What is to become of the poor who cannot pay these high rents?
    • 1895, Marie Corelli, The Sorrows of Satan, OCLC 1085228267, page 14:
      "Why Jack, old fellow, I wronged you!" I exclaimed,—"your heart is in the right place after all."

Usage notes[edit]

Today almost always used to contrast a subject's good intentions with actions that are foolish or ineffectual. In earlier usage, this was not the case.

Synonyms[edit]