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I once read a phrase (or idiom) like

He has his heart in the right place

although the context seemed to be a bit harsh. My understanding is: though he might have sounded harsh, he means well or is making the comment in good faith. Did I get it right?

However, it seems to me the idiom could be used in other contexts as well, such as: "he is focused on the situation as expected, no matter how it seems". Is this right? Are there any other uses of the idiom?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

It means that he meant well, but it also invites the inference that what he tried to do didn't work out well.

In English, the heart is the seat of the emotions, and the brain is the seat of logical thought (metaphorically, of course).

So Grice's Maxim of Quantity would then suggest that if all you can say about him is that his heart is in the right place, then his brain is likely somewhere else.

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+1 and his actions also might also be less than ideal. –  bib Aug 9 '12 at 22:02
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