I came across the phrase, “strolled over to a place with a spring in his heels” in Jeffery Archer’s novel, Kane & Abel, which I started to read a few months ago and still in the midway. It appears in the following sentence:

“He (Abel Rosnovski, one of the two leading characters) was certain the banker would not have found a buyer, but nonetheless he strolled over to the Continental Trust with a spring in his heels. He liked the idea of being the manager of the best hotel in Chicago.”

Though I can easily surmise that ‘stroll with a spring in one’s heels’ means to stroll lightheartedly and cheerfully -We express this feeling as 小躍りして歩く‐walk cheerfully like dancing in Japanese-, I don’t find this phrase in any of OALD, online OED, CED, and Merriam-Webster.

Google NGram doesn’t register “a spring in one’s heels,” but it registers “a spring in my step,” of which currency restarted around circ 1930 following a long hiatus after its short emergence during 1840 through 1980.

I also found the definition of “a spring in one's step” as “(n.uc. / idiomatic) enthusiasm, energy or a positive outlook or cheerful attitude” in wikitionar, and the following example in glossfree.com/ :

“I've made the decision to March forward into March with a spring in my step and a smile in my heart for many days of living life to its every emotion and experience that lies ahead and enjoy it! Life's too short to get bogged.”

Is “(do with) a spring in one’s step” a popular English idiom, and “stroll with a spring in his heels” is just a variation coined by Jeffery Archer?

  • 2
    I've always heard it as "a spring in his step"
    – Jambison
    Mar 7, 2013 at 5:59

1 Answer 1


No, "spring in his heels" is much less common than "spring in his step" ... enter image description here

  • 4
    But consider also the expression "spring-heeled" which clearly predates Archer. I suspect that he (deliberately or inadvertently) combined two forms.
    – Fortiter
    Mar 7, 2013 at 0:54

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