Keep a stiff upper lip


      • remain resolute and unemotional
        Encouragement to stay strong and composed in the face of adversity or difficulty

      • maintain a brave front
        Advise to not show one's emotions, especially in difficult or painful situations

    Examples of Keep a stiff upper lip

    • Despite the overwhelming grief, Catherine managed to keep a stiff upper lip at her husband's funeral. She didn't want to fall apart in front of everyone and show weakness.

      The idiom "keep a stiff upper lip" means to remain calm and composed in difficult or trying circumstances. Catherine didn't want to let her emotions get the best of her in front of others, so she forced herself to maintain a stoic facade. It's often used as encouragement to stay strong and not let external pressures or emotions control one's inner state.

    • In the face of adversity, Jane kept a stiff upper lip and remained resolute in her decision. She didn't let the criticism or obstacles deter her from achieving her goals.

      To "keep a stiff upper lip" is to maintain a stoic and resolute demeanor, refusing to be overcome by emotions, especially in challenging circumstances. This idiom is originally derived from the naval tradition, where officers were instructed to hold a handkerchief or hand-stopper in their teeth to prevent their lips from quivering. This gesture conveyed an impression of firmness and control, which was further reinforced by the term "stiff upper lip." Jane's ability to remain steadfast in the face of adversity and her determination to succeed despite criticism and challenges, is representative of this British idiom.


    The idiom "keep a stiff upper lip" is used to encourage someone to stay strong and composed in challenging situations, and to not show their emotions. It can also be used to advise against engaging in a particular activity or task, cautioning that it will not result in any positive outcome or benefit.

    Origin of "Keep a stiff upper lip"

    The origin of the idiom "keep a stiff upper lip" can be traced back to British culture, particularly during times of war or hardship. The phrase refers to maintaining a firm and unyielding demeanor, particularly in the face of adversity. The stiff upper lip was seen as a symbol of British stoicism and emotional resilience. The phrase has since become a common expression in English-speaking countries, used to encourage bravery and composure in difficult situations.

    One possible origin of the phrase comes from the physical act of literally keeping one's upper lip stiff or straight, which was seen as a sign of emotional control and strength. Another theory suggests that the phrase may have originated from the military, where soldiers were expected to maintain a calm and composed demeanor, even in the most challenging and distressing circumstances. Over time, the expression has evolved to encompass the idea of maintaining emotional strength and resilience in the face of adversity.