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What Is The Meaning Of COCKLES In The Expression "Warm The Cockles Of Your Heart"?

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Cockles are bivalve shelled molluscs (clams). The shells are slightly heart-shaped (Valentine shape heart, not the real heart in our chests),

In fishing communities "Cockle" could also be taken to mean chamber, as in the chamber (inside the clam shell) where the cockle animal lives. Or (again in a fishing community) the name "cockle" might be given to the valves of the clam. The ventricles of the human heart may still be referred to as the "cockles" in medical terminology.

Hearts have valves, too. And the heart is soft and slippery and surrounded by a shell of sort (the breast plate). So warming the cockles of your heart is like warming a clam in its shell. Your heart might normally seem protected and shielded from such sentimental intrustion, but the saying applies when some love has gotten through, after all.

In German, a cockle is called (in their language, literally translated) a "heart mussel".

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