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Last updated at 16:16 BST, Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Gut and guts

A gut

Can you stomach it?

A question from Sung in Korea:
I saw in a health magazine the phrase "Lose your gut". I've got no idea what that means. Could you tell me more about gut/guts?

Gareth Rees answers:

Click below to hear the answer:

Hello Sung. Thank you for your question concerning phrases related to the word 'gut' or 'guts', a word whose basic meaning is directly connected to the body, but which is used in many metaphorical ways too.

The basic meaning of gut is the body organ through which food passes from your stomach, which is more often called your intestine. In the plural form, guts, it means the intestine and other organs inside your body, including your stomach.

With regard to the example you have seen in a health magazine, when they say 'lose your gut' they mean lose the fat around your stomach. In particular, this often refers to men, especially if they drink too much beer and eat too many chips.

However, we also use guts to refer to courage or bravery. If we say that someone has the 'guts to do something', then they have the courage to do it. For example:

  • Only Sarah had the guts to tell the boss that his idea was a bad idea.

This means that everyone else in the office was too scared to tell the boss he was wrong. Only Sarah had the guts to do it. In fact, we can say that the other people in the office were 'gutless'; they did not have the courage or determination needed to talk directly to the boss.

We also talk about 'gut reactions' or 'gut feelings'. These are feelings you have when you are sure that you are right or correct, but you cannot give a reason for those feelings. You do not have a logical reason for why you feel something is correct, but you are certain that it is correct. For example:

  • I had a gut feeling that Simon was lying to me about the money, but I couldn't say anything because I didn’t have any proof.

Lastly, we also use the word 'gutted' to say that we are really disappointed by something. For example:

  • I was gutted when Manchester United lost the football match against Chelsea.

So, I hope that you can see how we use the word gut in many different ways, and that writing to BBC Learning English has been an easy thing to do, that it has been something which didn't take a lot of guts to do.

About Gareth Rees

Gareth Rees


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