ENGLISCH/736: Questions to Mrs. Gobbledygook (114) piece or peace (SB)


114. "Piece of ones mind" or "peace of mind"

Dear Mrs Gobbledygook

... could you possibly tell me what the expression "I give you a piece of my mind" really means? Or is it rather "peace of my mind"? After hearing this the other day on the radio I have been having serious problems to decide whether or not I did understand it after all. As you might imagine this is causing some frustration, so I would be grateful if you could focus your attention on this problem in one of your next issues.

Thank you in advance for your help in this matter.

Kamil Nowak (Kutno, Poland)


Dear Mr Nowak

Thank you very much for your question regarding the expression "to give someone a piece of ones mind", which is correctly written "p-i-e-c-e" of ones "m-i-n-d".

Well, "mind" in this context means something like "my opinion" or "what I think of you". So the expression "I give you a piece of my mind", means more or less the same as "I'm going to tell you exactly what I think of you." And when you hear that, you will know that what the speaker thinks is not a compliment. And it is quite a strong expression. Just imagine the following situation:

A little boy had knocked at the front door of an old ladies cottage and when she came to the door, he just ran away laughing. But the old lady is not going to accept that, she says:

"Now just you come here little boy and I'm going to give you a piece of my mind! Just what do you think you are playing at? What do you say? Lost your tongue, have you? Well, I am disgusted by your behavior, disgusted! Don't you ever do that again, or you will regret it, I can promise you."

So we saw, that when you are addressing someone directly, the expression "I give you a piece of my mind" is very strong. When you use it about someone else, it is not quite so strong, for example:

A: "I had a man painting the outside of my house last week".

B: "Oh, lucky you."

A: "Well, you wouldn't say I was lucky if you'd seen what he did. He got paint all over the windows, all over the curtains and all over the bushes in the garden. So I gave the man a piece of my mind: 'Look here,' I said, 'I am paying you good money to do this work, and I don't want my house ruined.'"

So, thats the expression "to give one a piece of your mind". Either way, never ever confuse it with the expression "p-e-a-c-e of mind". And in that case "peace" is spelled like in "peaceful". If you have "peace of mind" you are contented with no worries, as in the following example, where someone else is having been work done:

C: "I've had new locks fitted on all my doors."

D: "Have you, I bet that was expensive."

C: "Yes, it was. But it's worth every penny for the peace of mind."

Now, in this example Ms C no longer worries about having things stolen from her house. So again our expressions today were:

"To give someone a piece of ones mind."


"Peace of mind"

Hoping that giving you a piece of my mind about these expressions is worth the effort for your peace of mind.

Kind regards

Mrs Gobbledygook

15 May 2007