'Keep Your Chin Up': Definition, Meaning, Examples

By Carly Forsaith, updated on September 24, 2023

If you're wondering what the saying 'Keep your chin up' means, you're in the right place. This article will teach you everything you need to know about its meaning, possible origins, and how to use it in a sentence.

The short version is this:

  • When someone tells you to 'keep your chin up,' they're trying to encourage you to stay strong and hopeful during difficult times.

What Does 'Keep Your Chin Up' Mean?

This is an idiom, which means you don't usually interpret it literally. However, with 'keep your chin up,' it can be helpful to interpret it literally. If someone walks around with their chin up, it means their head is high and not allowing it to drop in a defeated way. And that's precisely what this idiom means.

To tell someone to keep their chin up is a supportive comment to tell someone when they're having a difficult time. You're encouraging them to stay positive because things will get better.

Imagine, for example, that your friend got fired and is very down about it. You might say:

Keep your chin up; I know it sucks but you'll find another job.

There are many different ways you can use this expression since you can:

  • swap out the pronoun
    keep their chin up
    keep his chin up
    keep my chin up
  • play around with the verb forms
    keeping your chin up
    kept your chin up

    keeps her chin up

Where Does 'Keep Your Chin Up' Come From?

The origin of this idiom is not definitively known, but its meaning is straightforward and related to body language. When someone keeps their chin up, they are physically holding their head high and not allowing it to droop or hang in a defeated or discouraged manner. This posture conveys confidence, resilience, and determination.

  • While there isn't a specific historical event or figure associated with the origin of "keep your chin up," it likely developed organically in the English language as a way to encourage or uplift others during difficult times.
  • The idiom has become a common and comforting way to express support and optimism.

One of the first recorded uses in print was in an October 1900 edition of the newspaper The Evening Democrat's segment Epigrams Upon the Health-giving Qualities of Mirth:

Keep your chin up. Don’t take your troubles to bed with you – hang them on a chair with your trousers or drop them in a glass of water with your teeth.

Example Sentences

Now we've covered the meaning and origins of the famous saying, let's look at some sentence examples that use it. I'll show you examples of the phrase in its various forms: infinitive, third-person singular, present participle, and simple past.

After she failed the exam, I told her to keep her chin up and keep working hard for the next one.

Despite facing setbacks in his career, he always manages to keep his chin up and maintain a positive outlook.

It's important to keep your chin up during trying times and believe that things will get better.

The coach told the team to keep their chins up and stay focused on the game.

She went through a rough patch in her life, but she's keeping her chin up and moving forward.

When faced with criticism, he always keeps his chin up and doesn't let it affect his self-confidence.

Your heart's in the right place so just keep your chin up and keep going.

Hang in there my love. Keep your chin up, and you'll overcome this obstacle.

Despite the difficult circumstances, he kept his chin up and continued pursuing his dreams.

The teacher told the high school students to keep their chins up, assuring them that they could achieve their goals with hard work and dedication. 

Other Ways to Say 'Keep Your Chin Up'

There are many other ways to tell someone to stay positive and keep trying. Here are some of them:

  • Stay positive
  • Keep your spirits high
  • Stay strong
  • Don't lose hope
  • Hang in there
  • Keep the faith
  • Keep your head held high
  • Don't give up
  • Keep pushing forward
  • Stay resilient
  • Don't let it get you down
  • Remain determined
  • Hang in there

In Conclusion

If you know someone who is going through hardship, you might encourage them by telling them to 'keep their chin up.' It's a kind and supportive way of showing someone you feel for them and want them to be well.

Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Check out our idioms blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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