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The first few times I heard someone say that they wear their heart (or feelings) on their shoulder, I merely assumed that they meant "on their sleeve" and had misspoken. But after a bit of googling I am now wondering if there are not some places in the US where people habitually use the expression "to wear one's heart/feelings on one's shoulder."

I expect that this expression is the result of confusing two different idioms. The person I heard use it is a college-educated professional from the Jacksonville FL area. According to rational-madness.blogspot.com/2006/07, Miss USA 2006 also used this expression:

At the recent Miss Universe pageant, when asked about her weakness, Miss USA answers, "I wear my heart on my shoulder... that keeps me humble."

I believe Miss USA 2006 was born in Dallas, TX, and lived most of her life up to the pageant in Russel Springs, KY, so perhaps this saying has some currency in the south.

In many of the examples I found on the Web, it seems to refer to having a tattoo of a heart on the shoulder, so context is also important. But apparently there are people who speak this way.

Can anyone confirm that this is the case, or is it really just a matter of a small number of people who habitually misspeak?

TIA

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    Probably they’re mixing up “heart on one’s sleeve” with “chip on one’s shoulder”. I personally don’t remember encountering this particular malapropism (NYC area). Can you recall where, physically, you were when you heard it? As many examples as you can remember; in the ideal case where you think or know the speaker was from, language-community wise. That’ll help us narrow down our search. – Dan Bron Sep 17 '19 at 11:55
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    Yes, I expect that this expression is the result of confusing two different idioms. The speaker is a college-educated professional from the Jacksonville FL area. According to rational-madness.blogspot.com/2006/07, Miss USA 2006 also used this expression. I believe Miss USA 2006 is from Alabama, so perhaps this saying has some currency in the south. In many of the examples I found on the Web, it seems to refer to having a tattoo of a heart on the shoulder, so context is also important. But apparently there are people who speak this way. – Steven Venti Sep 17 '19 at 12:15
  • That’s great intel! It’ll help answerers if you edit it into your post. – Dan Bron Sep 17 '19 at 12:16
  • If you happen to have a heart tattoo on your shoulder it would be natural to deliberately change the expression from "on one's sleeve" to "on one's shoulder" for humorous effect. – nnnnnn Sep 17 '19 at 12:32
  • There is a famous song advising us to pack up our troubles in our old kit-bag. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 17 '19 at 15:52
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on one's shoulders TFD an idiom ~1300

  • As one's responsibility.

This metaphoric use of shoulders as the burden-bearing part of the body dates from the late 1300s.

and

*on someone's shoulders TFD an idiom

Fig. on someone's own self. (*Typically: be ~; carry something ~; fall ~; have something ~; leave something ~; put something ~.)

As in:

At the recent Miss Universe pageant, when asked about her weakness, Miss USA answers, "I wear my heart on my shoulder, [bears responsibility for her own heart] that keeps me humble."

Heart on one's sleeve: it is easily seen by others. To bear the burden on one's own heart means to keep a clean, morally healthy and an optomistic heart is dependent on her, she cannot always do it successfully and it is a burden

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