What Does Collect One’s Thoughts Mean?

To Collect One’s Thoughts Meaning

Definition: To take time to think about something.

To collect one’s thoughts is to compose oneself. When distressed or excited by new information, people may have so many thoughts swirling around their minds that they cannot effectively talk about what they are thinking or feeling.

People who are upset often feel the need to leave a conversation and be alone to collect their thoughts. By doing this, they are taking time aside from a conversation to figure out what to say and what is important to them.

Origin of To Collect One’s Thoughts

define collecting thoughtsLike many idioms, there is no definite origin story for this phrase. It likely comes from people feeling that they have too many opposing ideas to sort through. They need to think about their own thoughts in order to come up with a plan of action. It is almost as if the thoughts are scattered and need to be collected up again.

It may also relate to the phrase calm and collected. A person who is calm and collected is able to think clearly and present himself or herself well. Someone who has taken time to collect his or her thoughts would appear to be a calm and collected person.

Examples of To Collect One’s Thoughts

meaning of collect your thoughtsIt is common to tell a crying, distraught person, “Why don’t you take some time to collect your thoughts?”

For example, at a funeral, someone close to the one who has died may need to collect his or her thoughts before talking to other guests at the funeral.

People may also need to collect their thoughts before speaking with important people. For example, someone who is about to give a speech onstage may flip through notecards and collect his thoughts before going out to present.

More Examples

  • “The families need a chance to collect their thoughts here in the face of the mountain,” said Serge Gouteyron, of France’s Interior Ministry. “They need calm and privacy.” – New York Post
  • “Sometimes you want to do it that night, but it’s good to collect your thoughts, and then you have a little more time to talk about things,” Girardi said. “To me, it’s always better to sleep on it.” – New York Times


The phrase to collect one’s thoughts is to think about how one is feeling or what one is about to say.