I was amused to find the headline of article, “Just Dropped In to Take Your Pulse” in New Car Reviews section of New York Times October 25 issue, which is followed by the lead-copy:

The Scirocco R performance hatchback is a European car that VW is showing off in America. Will it come here? The company isn’t ready to say. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/automobiles/autoreviews/just-dropped-in-to-take-your-pulse.html?_r=0

In Japan we have two pulse related idioms, i.e., “脈をとる - myaku wo toru,” literally meaning “take pulse” – to diagnose sickness, and “脈がある - myaku ga aru,” meaning “There’s still chance / hope (for revival, success, achievement).”

Does “take one’s pulse” have broader meanings of “research” and “sounding” as a common parlance, other than health diagnosis, like “The press use public polls to take pulse of people’s sentiment and attitudes towards the government.”?

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    Well, apparently here are 26,300 written references to taking/feeling/gauging/checkiing/etc. the pulse of public opinion, so it's obviously not limited to "health diagnosis". There's also check for a pulse (checking life, rather than health), and that's also sometimes used figuratively. Oct 27, 2013 at 1:14

1 Answer 1


In short, yes. It is primarily used in journalism, and may be used in many different contexts. It is most often used when "taking the pulse" of public opinion, but one can also "take the pulse of the economy" or "take the pulse of the government." It basically implies that the reporter or news agency has done some research and will now provide us with a summary of said research, which will at the same time bring us up to date on the topic.

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