heart·​string ˈhärt-ˌstriŋ How to pronounce heartstring (audio)
obsolete : a nerve once believed to sustain the heart
: the deepest emotions or affections
usually used in plural
That movie really pulls at your heartstrings.

Did you know?

Heartstring Has a Medical History

Before a love song 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 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 bodily cords like tendons and ligaments.

Examples of heartstring in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web My mum used to think of the internet as a special place for YouTube videos introducing new recipes, Islamic sermons that tug on her heartstrings, and sincere Facebook posts from strangers. WIRED, 15 Sep. 2023 Monica's attempt to date Richard's son allows the gang to make a lot of great jokes at her expense, and Ross and Rachel tug at our heartstrings fighting about exchanging gifts. House Beautiful, 7 Sep. 2023 Listeners tune in to have their heartstrings plucked on purpose and to engage in sappiness without irony. Anna Kaufman, USA TODAY, 1 Sep. 2023 Based on Ausiello’s 2017 memoir of the same name, this romantic dramedy is a devastatingly beautiful film that will pull at your heartstrings and leave you in tears. Christine Giordano, Women's Health, 27 Aug. 2023 In the bustling world of pet care and canine well-being, a pressing concern that tugs at the heartstrings of countless dog owners is their beloved companions' joint health. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 1 Aug. 2023 Whatever pulls at your heartstrings, give it your best shot. Tarot Astrologers, Chicago Tribune, 7 July 2023 Some of her music over the years has sounded more upbeat and dance-forward (she’s collaborated with Hercules and Love Affair) but she’s always sounded best pulling at your heartstrings and dragging you into her world. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 10 July 2023 Birch pulled at heartstrings as little Dani, who went from annoying little sister to everyone's favorite and sassiest character. Ale Russian, Peoplemag, 12 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'heartstring.' 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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near heartstring

Cite this Entry

“Heartstring.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heartstring. Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


heart·​string -ˌstriŋ How to pronounce heartstring (audio)
: the deepest emotions or affections
touched the heartstrings of the audience
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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