heart·​beat ˈhärt-ˌbēt How to pronounce heartbeat (audio)
: one complete pulsation of the heart
: the vital center or driving impulse
: a brief space of time : flash
used chiefly in the phrase in a heartbeat

Example Sentences

The patient had a rapid heartbeat. I'd accept a job offer from that company in a heartbeat.
Recent Examples on the Web High blood pressure and low blood pressure are each risk factors for stroke, and atrial fibrillation — an abnormal heartbeat — is, too. Eva Holland, New York Times, 1 Mar. 2023 Symptoms include irregular heartbeat, heart racing, chest pain, shortness of breath, light-headedness and fatigue. Stephanie Emma Pfeffer, Peoplemag, 16 Feb. 2023 Dysautonomia impairs the autonomic nervous system, a network of nerves that branch out from the brain or spinal cord and extend through the body, controlling unconscious functions such as heartbeat, breathing, sweating and blood vessel dilation. Stephani Sutherland, Scientific American, 14 Feb. 2023 The experience may be accompanied by a rapid heartbeat, faster breathing, sweating or a vivid dream or hallucination, according to scientists. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, 9 Feb. 2023 Other possibilities are Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which causes a very rapid heartbeat, or Brugada syndrome. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, 4 Feb. 2023 Some signs to watch out for, according to the Cleveland Clinic, include shortness of breath, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, a whooshing sound in your ear, headaches, and chest pain. Erica Sweeney, Men's Health, 1 Feb. 2023 Along with smelly stool, other symptoms include watery stool, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and abnormal heartbeat, per the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Sabrina Talbert, Women's Health, 31 Jan. 2023 The heartbeat of the man who received the first heart transplant. Heather Lanier, Longreads, 10 Jan. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'heartbeat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1850, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of heartbeat was in 1850

Dictionary Entries Near heartbeat

Cite this Entry

“Heartbeat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heartbeat. Accessed 23 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


heart·​beat ˈhärt-ˌbēt How to pronounce heartbeat (audio)
: a single contracting and expanding of the heart

Medical Definition


heart·​beat ˈhärt-ˌbēt How to pronounce heartbeat (audio)
: one complete pulsation of the heart

More from Merriam-Webster on heartbeat

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