artichoked up

A couple years ago, I studied French pretty intensively. One of my favorite things about learning French (any language, really) is the discovery of idiomatic expressions. Probably my favorite (clean) one was "avoir un coeur d'artichaut," literally to have the heart of an artichoke. It means to be fickle, to fall in love easily and often.

Since I first heard the phrase, I often use it mentally (and, occasionally, out loud - usually to the consternation of an Anglophone listener). Today, it occurred to me to seek out its origins.

Found a great website almost immediately (Google, I love you), and a listing that makes sense of that odd little phrase. I'd thought it was something to do with the fact that an artichoke heart cannot actually feel, being a vegetable; the actual explanation is, I think, more poetic.

Loosely translated from the website: "The heart represents the center of the vegetable, the base of the artichoke which sprouts a multitude of leaves, enough for everyone around; as one who is said to have "the heart of an artichoke" gives a little bit of love to every person who seems to be worthy of interest.

The expression, dating back to the late 19th century, comes from its proverbial form: heart of an artichoke, a leaf for everyone."

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