Did someone use the phrase 'heart skips a beat', and you’re wondering what it means? In this article, we’ll take a look at the meaning, origin, examples, and more.
When someone's 'heart skips a beat,' it means that they're experiencing nervousness, excitement, or another sudden strong emotion.
If your ‘heart skips a beat,’ it means that you experienced a feeling of strong emotion. For example, if you experience excitement or nervousness, you can say that your ‘heart skipped a beat.’
It is said that this idiom has been used since the early 1900s.
Using the Google Books Ngram Viewer, we see that 'heart skips a beat' started showing up in publications in the early 20th century.
However, many of the earliest examples that use this phrase are more literal, showing up in medical texts.
For example, the following is from the Texas Medical Journal: Volume 33 from 1918:
"Premature contractions or extrasystoles are abnormal contractions of the heart which spring from some abnormal focus in the heart. They generally arise from either the auricular or the ventricular muscle. Without graphic aid it is generally impossible to differentiate auricular and ventricular premature beats, but for clinical purposes this is seldom necessary. Premature beats may pass unnoticed by the patient or may give rise to certain subjective symptoms. These symptoms are often spoken of by the patient that his heart "skips a beat," "turns over," etc."
Another early example from 1919 is similarly medical in origin:
"At the thirteenth cycle the photographic tracing shows that Vea's heart skipped a beat and in measuring the duration of the double cycle in which the missing thirteenth beat occurred, the average for two beats has been taken although only one beath (the fourteenth) showed on the record."
It isn't until later in the 20th century that we find evidence of this phrase being used idiomatically rather than literally.
Here is an example from the 1982 publication To Lose a War: Memories of a German Girl:
"This time my heart skips a beat. Not five minutes ago the soldier had asked if we carried weapons, ammunition, transmitters, etc."
Another example shows up in A New Year: Stories, Autobiography and Poems from 1974:
"Abu Nasif's heart skips a beat and he freezes to the spot as if paralyzed. He wants to take a step, but his legs will not obey him; he wants to cross himself, but his hands betray him."
How would you use this phrase in a sentence? Let’s take a look at some examples:
What other phrases have a similar meaning to 'heart skips a beat'?
Here are some options:
If your 'heart skips a beat,' it means that you've experienced a sudden feeling of excitement, surprise, or anticipation.
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