stiff upper lip

keep a stiff upper lip


  • to be brave in the face of adversity
  • to keep your emotions in control and not show when you are upset
  • to remain firm in purpose and not let an unpleasant situation distract you

Example Sentences

  1. Throughout the funeral of her parents, Mary kept a stiff upper lip.
  2. Despite the failure of the team to qualify for the world cup, the coach and the players kept a stiff upper lip.
  3. It is hard to keep a stiff upper lip when everything is simply falling apart.
  4. When John saw his poor performance in the exams, he kept a stiff upper lip.
  5. After being scolded by her parents in front of all her friends, Lucy struggled to keep a stiff upper lip.


This phrase was first used in the US in the 17th century and ironically, it was used to refer to British people. The origin of the phrase can be traced to the fact that when someone is afraid or scared, their lips start to tremble. So to keep a stiff upper lip showed that one was unafraid and this is how the idiom came to be used in everyday language.

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