Stiff upper lip  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

One who has a stiff upper lip displays fortitude in the face of adversity, or exercises great self-restraint in the expression of emotion. The phrase is most commonly heard as part of the idiom "keep a stiff upper lip", and has traditionally been used to describe an attribute of British people (particularly upper-middle and upper class), who are sometimes perceived by other cultures as being unemotional. A sign of weakness is trembling of the upper lip, hence the saying keep a stiff upper lip. When a person's upper lip begins to tremble, it is one of the first signs that the person is scared or experiencing deep emotion. Poems that feature a memorable evocation of Victorian stoicism and a stiff upper lip include Rudyard Kipling's "If—" and W. E. Henley's "Invictus". The idiom seems however of American origin; its earliest known example is in a publication called the Massachusetts Spy for 14 June 1815: "I kept a stiff upper lip, and bought [a] license to sell my goods."

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Stiff upper lip" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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