Idiom – Keep A Stiff Upper Lip

English Idiom –Stiff upper lip or Keep a stiff upper lip.

Meaning – To not show your emotions when you are upset. To keep your emotions hidden or bottled up. Do not let unpleasant things upset you. To show courage in the face of adversity.

The phrase stiff upper lip is believed to have originated in the Victorian era when it was considered a sign of good breeding and social status to remain stoic and unemotional in the face of adversity. Having a trembling upper lip can be a sign of weakness.

This is a British English idiom. It is a British stereotype that British people have a stiff upper lip  – do not show their emotions – in the face of adversity. This stereotype is a bit of a cliché (trite, stereotypical or overused expression or idea), as today’s Brits are probably just as likely to show their emotions as anyone else!

Idioms featuring Lips:

  • Bite your lips –  To refrain from saying something or showing a reaction to something that has made you angry.
  • Button your lip – A slightly impolite way to tell someone to be quiet.
  • Don’t give me any of your lip – This expression is used to tell someone to stop talking back or stop being rude about you.
  • My lips are sealed – This expression is used when you promise to keep a secret.
  • Read my lips – A slightly rude way to tell someone to listen to you.
  • Tight lipped – To not reveal information or to be secretive.


When could you use this idiom?

  • If somebody is visibly upset or emotional about something.
  • When a person is crying and you want them to stop.
  • If you are trying to convince someone to stay brave after an accident or injury.


  • “It’s only a game of football. Nobody want to see you crying, please try to keep a stiff upper lip!”

In The News:

Has Prince Harry Put An End To The Stiff Upper Lip?


  • Is there an idiom like this in your country?

What is an idiom?

An idiom is a word or phrase that is not taken literally.  An idiom is an expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its individual words, but has a separate meaning of its own.

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