stiff upper lip
To keep a stiff upper lip means ‘to be strong and show no emotion in a difficult situation’ or ‘to be stoic’. It is usually a positive expression. When people start to cry, usually their lips start to shake a little before their tears come. This is where this expression comes from. ‘Stiff upper lips’ are very British – the ideal British gentleman is someone with a stiff upper lip.
A: I’m reading this book about the British team who tried to be first to ‘discover’ the South Pole. One man, Lawrence Oates, got sick. He knew his sickness was making the trip even tougher for his team. So one day he just said quietly that he was going to go for a walk outside, and he left.
B: You mean he went outside to die???
A: Yes, but he didn’t make a big statement. He just left quietly…and went out.
B: Wow. What a stiff upper lip. That’s so impressive.
Do you have a stiff upper lip? Do you wish you did?