bleeding heart

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: a garden plant (Dicentra spectabilis) of the fumitory family with racemes of usually deep pink or white drooping heart-shaped flowers
broadly : any of several plants (genus Dicentra)
disparaging : a person who shows extravagant sympathy especially for an object of alleged persecution
To question police practices in America is to plunge into a debate distorted by caricatures. Police defenders generally see critics as cop-hating bleeding hearts, while police critics often see cops as trigger-happy killers.Ellis Cose


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bleed·​ing-heart ˈblē-diŋ-ˈhärt How to pronounce bleeding-heart (audio)
: feeling or showing excessive or extravagant sympathy especially for an object of alleged persecution
used as a term of disparagement for people with politically liberal opinions
… was often described as … a bleeding-heart liberal because he lent his name to so many left-wing groups.Patricia Bosworth

Examples of bleeding heart in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The most persistent voice in favor of tribal sovereignty and Native American tribes’ constitutional rights is not a bleeding-heart member of the court’s liberal wing. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 15 June 2023 Watching earnest Lokita enslaved to a drug cartel, deprived of a fulfilling womanhood, while resourceful Tori, working his heart out, riding a bike bigger than himself, merely appeases bleeding-heart sanctimony. Armond White, National Review, 31 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bleeding heart.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1864, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1937, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bleeding heart was in 1864

Dictionary Entries Near bleeding heart


bleeding heart

bleeding-heart pigeon

Cite this Entry

“Bleeding heart.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

bleeding heart

: a garden plant having drooping spikes of deep pink or white heart-shaped flowers
: a person who always shows a great amount of sympathy to victims of misfortune or persecution
used to express disparagement

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