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.