How would you explain in other words this phrase:

Made my heart sink

I picked it up in one article and can't find its explanation as idiom. Although I suppose it means 'this makes me sorry about something', I would like to find out the real meaning.

And what the deal with sink? It's just where you usually washing up, right? :)

  • Here to sink is a verb, not a noun :-)
    – Lucky
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 20:46
  • I think so:) but why is it here? What's the special meaning, if any? And how that idiom appeared? Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 20:49
  • I see that Nicole's got that one
    – Lucky
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 20:52
  • 1
    "Sink" as in "As the day ends, the sun slowly sinks in the west and the stars begin to appear."
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 0:04

3 Answers 3


Cambridge Dictionaries Online defines "your heart sinks" as an idiom meaning "you feel disappointed or discouraged," and gives this example sentence:

My heart sank when I opened the letter and realized I had not been accepted into graduate school.

"Sink" as a verb means "to move downward, usually through water." For example, the Titanic sank in the ocean. Here, it's being used metaphorically to mean it feels as if your heart is sinking, or moving downward in your body.

It's fairly common for figures of speech referring to negative emotions to refer to body parts metaphorically not being where they should be. Compare, for example, "My heart was in my throat," which means to be scared or anxious.

  • thanks, but see how I updated the question Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 20:45
  • I edited my answer accordingly.
    – Nicole
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 20:50
  • 2
    Also, common medicine for hundreds of years did believe that internal organs did move through the body according to outside stimuli. Good answer, Nicole.
    – Cord
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 20:55

The best way I know to search for an idiom is:

  • go to Google Books

  • reduce the idiom to a minimal number of characteristic words

  • search for it this say:

"heart sink" idiom

and you'll find many idiom dictionaries, such as this one, quoting it:

99 Essential Business Idioms and Phrasal Verbs: Succeed in ... Zhanna Hamilton

Business Idiom: Have One's Heart Sink Meaning: Become disappointed


The heart actually feels heavy due to a nervous system response to sadness, so it is not just a mental illusion. Heavier objects tend to sink (fall downward through the surroundings), hence the heart is said to sink on receiving bad news. Some synonymous phrases for "made my heart sink" are "made me disappointed/dejected/depressed".

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