Borrowed from French à contrecœur, à contre-cœur, from Old French avoir a contrecuer, avoir contrecœur (“to dislike”), from à (“for, with”) + contre-cœur (“aversion, dislike”) (contre (“against”) + cœur (“heart”)); compare Old French estre contre coer a (“to be adverse to”).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˌæ ˌkɒn.tɹəˈkɜːɹ/, /-ˌkɒ̃-/, /-ˈkəː/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˌɑ ˌkɑn.tɹəˈkɚ/
- Hyphenation: à con‧tre‧cœur
à contrecœur (not comparable)
- Reluctantly, unwillingly.
1882 May 14, Vincent van Gogh, “Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh”, in Masters of Art – Vincent van Gogh, Hastings, East Sussex: Delphi Classics, published 2014:
- Xtien was young at the time and had met him after her father's death, didn't know then what she knows now, and when the man died there she was alone with her child – forsaken, without a penny. À contrecœur went on the streets, became ill, was taken to hospital, in all sorts of trouble …
1988, Terence Cave, Recognitions: A Study in Poetics, Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-815849-3, page 319:
2004 June 26, Daniel Hannan, “The way ahead for Europe”, in The Spectator, archived from the original on 19 May 2006:
- This is not to say, of course, that countries would be prevented from adopting common initiatives in these areas. But no longer would sceptical states be dragged à contrecœur into policies that their people disliked. The more federally minded governments would be free to use EU structures and institutions to amalgamate to their hearts’ content, with no pressure on the more reluctant nations to join them.
2006, “The Nobel Prize”, in Fathoms from Anywhere – A Samuel Beckett Centenary Exhibition, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, archived from the original on 20 December 2015:
- à contre-cœur (traditional)
See à, contre, and cœur for the etymologies of the individual words. The adverbial phrase derives from the phrase qui va contre le cœur, meaning “which goes against the heart”, where heart is used figuratively to mean “one’s preferences”.