I've heard this idiom spoken both ways:
- "Play your cards close to the vest."
- "Play your cards close to the chest."
So I wondered: Which of these is correct?
The answer: Both.
There is no definitive answer to this question. While it appears that "close to the vest" appeared first, "close to the chest" followed almost immediately, and today, both are used with equal frequency.
This annoys the hell out of me. I want there to be an answer. I want one of these idioms to be correct, and frankly, I want it to be "close to the vest."
This middling, indecisive linguistic uncertainty is stupid.
As a writer, I'm thrilled with a variety of ways to express a single idea, but that variety should contain some actual variation rather than two words (vest and chest) that essentially mean the same thing in this context and rhyme.
And it shouldn't be the result of an inability to decide upon a correct way of expressing a specific idiom.
So I'm taking a stand. I say that "close to the vest" is correct and those who say "close to the chest" are heathens and cretins and socially unacceptable monsters. Linguistic criminals. Language murderers.
Disagree with my selection? Unsure if I'm right? Do a Google image search on "close to the vest" and "close to the chest" and see which set of images more closely capture the meaning of this idiom and which set of images make you marginally uncomfortable.
Who is with me?