Why Do the Words “Guts” and “Pluck” Mean Courage and How Did They Originate?

Having “guts” or “pluck” means having courage or backbone, while having neither means lily-livered cowardice, and they are all references to intestinal fortitude.

Guts, of course, are internal organs while pluck is collectively the heart, liver, and lungs.

Lily-livered comes from the belief that fear drains blood from the liver, making it white.

It was once believed that these internal organs, specifically the heart, were the source of a person’s character.

In the eighteenth century, the pluck contained the heart, liver, lights, melt, and skirt, lights were lungs, melt was the collected blood, and the skirt was the diaphragm.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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