Endure severe censure or criticism, as in He was known for being able to take the heat during a crisis. This idiom uses heat in the sense of “intense pressure,” as in if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. [First half of 1900s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.