Working togetherCategory: OtherBless him/her
chayal Staff asked 5 years ago

Ever heard this? 
Do you know what it means and when to use it?

Giuliana replied 5 years ago

This expression comes from the South of the United States. The usual way of saying it is “bless his/heart.” It’s a way to make an insult sound nice or just soften the blow of a horrible comment. People will say, for example, “Her baby is as ugly as hell, bless her heart.” Only Southerners use it and it’s considered really hypocritical.

meddle367 replied 5 years ago

You can also say bless his/her heart without the presence of an insult.

1 Answers
magnolia answered 5 years ago

I am not from the southern part of the US.
Bless him/ bless her can be used (just like that) in the sense of God bless the person (a wish for the person to be blessed). 
It is often said with genuine kindness/emotion like an interjection. (Oh my!) 
It can be used any time by anyone (not necessarily a religious person) to show support, surprise, sympathy, etc. or to acknowledge someone’s situation.
You see a battered puppy with a cast on one leg and say, “Awwww bless him.”  (if it is a male)
A bragging mother tells you all the sweet things her son does, and you say, “Bless him.” 
***
Bless her/his heart is also used in my area.  I use it.  Expressions tend to travel, and many factors other than geography affect word choice.
The expression is not always derisive, insulting or hypocritical or perceived as such (not even by southerners).   It can be used jokingly with no unkind intent.
I could have used it in the two examples above with similar intent/meaning.
You can visit someone in the hospital and tell a friend afterwards, “She looked awful. Bless her heart.” (somewhat like May mercy be shown to her.)

This is not always said to soften the blow of a negative observation.  It might be said because the observation has pained/affected the speaker. 
I walked in out of the storm.  I was soaking wet.  My mom said, “You are a drowned rat, bless your heart.” 🙂
You might also hear Bless her/his soul.
 
 

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