heartstring

noun
heart·​string | \ ˈhärt-ˌstriŋ \

Definition of heartstring

1 obsolete : a nerve once believed to sustain the heart
2 : the deepest emotions or affections usually used in plural That movie really pulls at your heartstrings.

Keep scrolling for more

Heartstring Has a Medical History

Before a song or movie or heart-shaped card accompanied by a box of chocolates could tug at your heartstrings, the job was more likely to be accomplished by a surgeon: the word heartstring used to refer to a nerve believed to sustain the heart. You might recognize the word's second syllable in the term "hamstring," which refers to both a group of tendons at the back of the knee and to any of three muscles at the backs of the upper legs. It's also apparent in a rare dialect term for the Achilles' tendon: "heel string." And in light of these terms, it's not surprising to know that "string" itself was at one time used independently to refer to cords like tendons and ligaments.

Examples of heartstring in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

As conventionally unconvincing as the enterprise has to be, the movie tries to tug at the heartstrings with its suggestion that in these old men Dax has found a new family. Jay Longino, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Uncle Drew,’ N.B.A. Stars Keep Dunking With Age," 28 June 2018 There is already a lot of charitable marketing that tugs on your heartstrings. Sean Illing, Vox, "How to do good better," 14 Dec. 2018 Getty Images Because 2018 isn't quite done pulling at your heartstrings just yet, Kristen Stewart and her longtime girlfriend, Stella Maxwell, have apparently broken up. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Who Is Sara Dinkin? Everything You Need to Know About Kristen Stewart's New Girlfriend," 26 Dec. 2018 But beyond that, the plot of each episode will reel audiences in and tug at their heartstrings. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, "BBC Earth's "Dynasties" Is a Captivating Look Into the Animal Kingdom," 9 Nov. 2018 Securities brokers such as Frank Lorenzo obviously do not tug at the judicial heartstrings. Brent Kendall, WSJ, "Supreme Court to Rule on Kavanaugh Appeals Court SEC Case," 2 Dec. 2018 Olivia Wilde and Oscar Isaac star in Fogelman’s latest movie Life Itself — a multigenerational story that is sure to tug on the heartstrings. Ale Russian, PEOPLE.com, "This Is Us Creator Brings More Tears in New Movie Life Itself with Olivia Wilde and Oscar Isaac," 10 July 2018 Delahunty agreed, saying once the adrenaline subsides from a rescue, the reality of fellow Carolinians’ condition really tugs on his heartstrings. Emilie Ikeda, Fox News, "Florence hits home for Coast Guard members from North Carolina," 18 Sep. 2018 The most viral tweets are the ones that tug on our heartstrings. Brian Resnick, Vox, "False news stories travel faster and farther on Twitter than the truth," 19 Mar. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of heartstring

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about heartstring

Share heartstring

Listen to Our Podcast about heartstring

Statistics for heartstring

Last Updated

20 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for heartstring

The first known use of heartstring was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

More from Merriam-Webster on heartstring

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with heartstring

Comments on heartstring

What made you want to look up heartstring? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

very full or close together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!