set one’s heart on: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘set one's heart on’ mean?

The idiom "set one's heart on" means to strongly desire or be determined to achieve something. It implies a deep emotional attachment and commitment towards a particular goal or outcome.

Idiom Explorer

"The Irresistible Urge: *Set One's Heart On*"

Set one's heart on is an idiomatic phrase commonly used in English. It describes a strong desire or determination to achieve something. When someone sets their heart on something, it means they are deeply passionate about it and willing to make an effort to achieve it. This phrase is often used in everyday conversation, as well as in literature, movies, and other forms of media.

The exact origin of the idiom is unclear, but it can be traced back to the 16th century. It is believed to have its roots in the metaphorical association between the heart and emotions. The heart has long been regarded as the center of one's emotions, desires, and intentions. Therefore, when someone sets their heart on something, they are expressing their deep emotional attachment and commitment to that particular thing.

The idiom set one's heart on is used to convey the intensity of someone's desire or ambition. For example, someone might say, "I've set my heart on becoming a doctor," to emphasize their unwavering determination to pursue a career in medicine. This expression highlights their strong emotional attachment to the goal and their willingness to put in the effort to achieve it.

Her determination and desire fueled her goal and aspirations.

It is essential to note that setting one's heart on something does not guarantee its fulfillment. While the idiom implies a strong commitment, it does not guarantee success or the realization of one's desires. The phrase acknowledges the emotional aspect of pursuing a goal or desire but does not guarantee a favorable outcome.

In addition to setting one's heart on achieving a goal, there are other related idioms that express a similar sentiment. One such idiom is "have one's heart in." This phrase is used to describe someone who is strongly committed or dedicated to a particular activity or endeavor. It can be used in various contexts, such as work or personal interests. For example, if someone is deeply involved in a creative project, you can say they have their heart in it. This idiom emphasizes their passion and emotional investment in their undertaking.

Another related idiom is "put one's heart in." This expression is similar to "set one's heart on" but emphasizes a sense of dedication and effort. When someone puts their heart in something, they are giving it their full attention and putting all their energy into achieving their goal. It signifies a deep emotional investment and indicates that they are willing to go the extra mile to accomplish what they desire.

Lastly, the idiom "someone's heart is in" refers to the emotional attachment someone has towards someone or something. It signifies a deep affection, devotion, or love. For example, if someone says, "My heart is in my work," they are expressing their emotional connection to their job and their dedication to performing it well. Similarly, if someone's heart is in a relationship, it means they have strong feelings of love and devotion towards their partner. This idiom emphasizes the emotional aspect of the connection and highlights the importance of deep emotional attachment.

Overall, the idiom set one's heart on is a powerful expression of deep passion, determination, and emotional attachment. It signifies a strong commitment and intense desire to achieve or possess something. However, it also acknowledges the uncertainties and challenges that may arise in the pursuit of one's desires. The idiom captures the complex and often unpredictable nature of human emotions and aspirations.

Example usage


  • She has set her heart on becoming a doctor.
  • He set his heart on buying that expensive car.
  • They set their hearts on winning the championship.

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