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.

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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

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 Another day, another fixer-upper on our minds—and this one is tugging especially hard on our heartstrings. Elizabeth Finkelstein, Country Living, "This $15,000 Georgia Fixer-Upper Needs a Knight in Shining Armor," 23 Feb. 2018 The purpose of human-interest reporting that pulls heartstrings is not to tell voters to reject the Trump administration's policy but rather to ensure that even those who support it do so fully aware of its effects. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, "Kirstjen Nielsen’s suggestion that human-interest reporting reveals media bias," 19 June 2018 Not just in this chapter but throughout, Alford is a master of pulling the heartstrings, but in a positive, celebratory way. New York Times, "Misty Copeland Pirouettes Through Two Books on Dance," 11 June 2018 Best scene: Baseball movies, including this one, have a tendency to tug on people's heartstrings. 5. Peter Dawson, star-telegram, "Ranking the top 7 Texas sports movies of all time — and their best scenes," 28 June 2018 Their relationship and its travails are the heartstrings of the book. Stephanie Danler, New York Times, "Can Women Have It All? Not in Silicon Valley," 1 June 2018 On her latest album, Soft Sounds from Another Planet, Michelle explored the process of healing after a tragedy and created a number of songs sure to tug at the heartstrings of Coachella-goers. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Coachella 2018: 13 Indie Artists and Smaller Acts You Should See," 10 Apr. 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.

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First Known Use of heartstring

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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