Does the idiom "taking the heart out of something" mean to defeat it?
rituals of science have taken the heart out of the rituals of religion
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The human heart is used metaphorically in many different ways. Common to many of these metaphors is the notion of centeredness or centrality, perhaps because the human heart is at the center of our bodies (well, almost). Moreover, the heart is central to our existence, since once the heart stops beating (or starts beating erratically), the end is near!
To "take the heart out of something" is to remove its central core, or its raison d'etre, or its sine qua non. Can the notion of defeat somehow be implied in the use of the phrase? Possibly. When a person running in a marathon "hits the wall," they are tempted to lose heart and quit the race. To quit the race is to be defeated, but sometimes simply entertaining the notion of quitting can signal defeat.
Changing gears a bit, here's a fairly common phrase,
Jack's heart doesn't seem to be in his job.
Translation: For some reason, Jack is dispirited in his job. He's lost his enthusiasm and motivation. Consequently, his performance may be slipping, or if his performance is still good, it's not because he cares about his performance.
We could use a different metaphor, which has a similar meaning:
Jack is phoning in his job lately.
When a person's heart is not into whatever he or she is doing or saying, what is missing is commitment combined with a certain joie de vivre, as the French say.
Other expressions employing the word heart metaphorically:
At the heart of the matter is the cost of implementing the change.
When I proposed to her and she said no, she tore my heart right out of me.
Cupid's arrow found its way to my heart.
I heartily agree with your plan.
She gave her audience a heartfelt plea to have compassion on the orphans.
Don't be so heartless, you unfeeling monster.
"Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life" (Proverbs 4:23 NASB).
She has a heart of gold.
"A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones" (Proverbs 17:22 NASB).
My heart rejoices whenever she comes into view.
Don't harden your heart when a homeless person asks you for a meal.
"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (a duet sung by Elton John and Kiki Dee to a tune Elton composed).
He has such a hard heart.
Her heart is filled with pride.
My mother was truly the heart of our extended family.
Take or rip the heart out of something in a figurative way means:
- to destroy or seriously damage something
- these changes will rip the heart out of the island’s economy.