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What does _____ your heart out mean? Does it carry a positive connotation or a negative one?

For example:

work your heart out.

Does this mean that you like working, so you should do it to your heart's content, or does it mean you do a lot of what you don't like to do (work)?

Any help would be appreciated.

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If you are not trying hard enough, someone might say to you this common idiomatic phrase:

Put your heart into it (what you are doing).

It means to put all of your effort, interest and concentration in order to meet your goal or complete your task.

work your heart out

is similar in meaning:

If you want to stay in shape, you need to work your heart out (exercise as best you can).

But putting other words in the blank the phrase may have a different meaning. The only one I can think of at the moment is:

eat your heart out

Check eat one's heart out and eat your heart out

  • Also, it depends who's saying it, and with what intonation. Said sarcastically, it means something like "Go ahead; be a fool and work yourself to death—I won't be that stupid! – Brian Hitchcock Feb 5 '15 at 10:16
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Work your heart out seems to me to be a polite version of work your ass off. Sing your heart out is a reference to emoting musically. You can work your magic, work your fingers to the bone, or work like a dog.

  • If the OP doesn't know "work your heart out", I don't think telling them it's the same thing as "work your ass off" is going to be that helpful. You've given a lot of related phrases, but you don't explain what any of them mean exactly. – ColleenV Jan 30 '16 at 13:44

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