A powerful claim of conceptual metaphor theory is that the most central metaphors are grounded in bodily experience. It might be expected that these metaphors would be shared by different languages. In this paper, we use large computerised corpora of English and Italian to examine the power of conceptual metaphor theory to explain the non-literal senses of lexis from the field of the human body. We find a number of equivalent expressions across the two languages which seem to be traceable to the body-mind mappings described in work by Sweetser [From Etymology to Pragmatics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1990] and others. We also find that metonymy is a significant force for generating non-literal expressions, and that a large number of expressions are apparently generated by a combination of metaphor and metonymy [Cogn. Linguist. 1 (1990) 323]. This cross-linguistic study suggests that while universal bodily experience may motivate many figurative expressions, the process is sometimes complex, and will not necessarily result in equivalent expressions in different languages, for cultural and linguistic reasons.