Close Your Eyes and Think of England – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell someone to “take one for the team”? If so, you could use the alternate saying, “close your eyes and think of England.” This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


If someone tells you to “close your eyes and think of England,” they are telling you to “take one for the team.” It’s a way of asking you to temporarily shoulder the burden and sacrifice for the group’s betterment.

Traditionally, the saying means a wife must do her marital sexual responsibility for her husband against her will. However, the phrase has since changed to include any embarrassing situation, from sexual relations to social interactions.

Example Usage

“I know you don’t want to come out on a double date with a guy you don’t know. But I really like Mike and I need you to be there for me. Just close your eyes and think of England. You’ll be fine.”

“You could see from the expression on her face that she wasn’t into him. She just thought, close your eyes and think of England.”

“Close your eyes and think of England. Just take it on the chin for us, and we’ll never forget we owe you one.”

“Did you see how the Queen looked so unimpressed by that other leader in the photo? It was like she was thinking, close your eyes and think of England.”

“If I had to pick a caption for that photo, it would say ‘close your eyes and think of England.’”


The expression “close your eyes and think of England” originates from the journal of Lady Hillingdon, recorded in 1912. The first iteration of the phrase has a slightly altered meaning and phrasing. It appears as follows.

“When I hear his steps outside my door I lie down on my bed, open my legs and think of England.”

However, the source document for the journal isn’t available to the public. So it’s challenging to know if that is the original version of the phrase or not.

Lady Hillingdon was the wife of Charles William Mills, the second Baron of Hillingdon. The Barron retired from public service five years earlier to the journal entry, taking his leave due to ill health.

The phrase would appear again in a New Zealand publication, The Evening Post, in February 1905.

“Oh, to lie awake at night and think of England,

Out of reach and far away;

Oh, to see her in the distance as a picture,

And let your fancy play.”

Phrases Similar to Close Your Eyes and Think of England

  • Take one for the team.
  • Quid quo pro.
  • Grin and bear it.
  • Deal with it.
  • Man up.

Phrases Opposite to Close Your Eyes and Think of England

  • We’re all going down together.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Close your eyes and think of England.

Ways People May Say Close Your Eyes and Think of England Incorrectly

Some people may use the phrase “close your eyes and think of England incorrectly. The expression does not mean to think of England; specifically, it means to think of a distraction. Using it to describe the action of fantasizing about the country or any land is incorrect.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Close Your Eyes and Think of England

You can use “close your eyes and Think of England” in any social situation where you find yourself uncomfortable. The phrase doesn’t always have to have a sexual connotation behind it, and you can use it in replacement for other sayings like “take one for the team.

“Close your eyes and think of England” is a versatile saying. Many people replace the “England” in the expression with their home country, state, town, or even their local football club. It’s a way of saying that you’re willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to achieve a favorable outcome for the collective.

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