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8 Ways To Use The Phrase "Bless Your Heart" That We All Need To Adopt ASAP

The little black dress of linguistics.

My name's Laken, and I grew up in the Southern United States. One of the first full sentences I learned how to say was, "Bless your heart."

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If you've ever been in a Southern state like Tennessee or Mississippi, you've probably heard this saying or the shortened slang, "Bless." But what exactly does it mean, and why do only Southerners seem to know about it?

If you don't know about "Bless your heart," you should consider adopting it into your lingo ASAP because it's the little black dress of linguistics. You can use this phrase in almost any situation: as a compliment, an insult, and so much more.

To prove that "Bless your heart" is the ultimate all-purpose phrase, here are eight iconic ways that you can correctly use it:

1. To show genuine concern

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Sarah: "I've had a really hard day. I got a flat tire on my way to work, then I failed a pop quiz in class."

Alex: "Oh no, Sarah! Bless your heart. That sounds so stressful."

2. To show shock or scandal

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Sarah: "Alex, did you hear about Derek? He and Kevin broke up – and right before the big dance, too! And now Derek's taking Kevin's cousin as his date, instead!"

Alex: "No way! Bless it – that's such juicy gossip."

3. To show frustration or as a replacement for cursing

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Sarah: "Did you finish your homework?"

Alex: "We had homework? Ugh, bless it all to heck. Guess I'm getting a zero on that assignment."

4. To be passive-aggressive or condescending

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Sarah: "Yeah, my boyfriend moved in with me, but he didn't even know how to do his laundry!"

Alex: "Well, bless his heart – he can't do anything right, can he?"

5. To show affection

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Sarah: "I bought you an iced coffee!"

Alex: "Oh, bless your heart. You're my BFF."

6. To be petty

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Sarah: "Remember that girl who was always yelling at the barista about her Starbucks order?"

Alex: "Yeah, what about her?"

Sarah: "Ironically, she just had to get a job at Starbucks. Bless her heart, I wonder how she'll feel now that she has to put up with people complaining to her."

7. To wish someone good luck

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Alex: "I'm so nervous because I have a job interview tomorrow."

Sarah: "Oh, bless you. You'll do great!"

8. And lastly – to have a filler phrase when you feel awkward, don't know what else to say, or don't really care about the conversation

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Alex: " my brother-in-law went on vacation, but he forgot to pack his favorite shirt! He was so excited about getting selfies in that shirt, so he was devastated. He brought his second-favorite shirt, but still... (blah, blah blah)."

Sarah: "Oh, right. Hm. Yeah, bless his heart."

Well, bless – would you look at that? We're at the end of the list.

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How else have you heard (or said), "Bless your heart?" I personally use the petty version at least twice a day. Add your favorite uses for this Southern phrase in the comments!