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See also: Heart and hèart


Diagram of the human heart.
The ace of hearts.

Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English herte, from Old English heorte (heart), from Proto-West Germanic *hertā, from Proto-Germanic *hertô (heart), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱérd (heart). Doublet of cardia; see also core.

Most of the modern figurative senses (such as passion or compassion, spirit, inmost feelings, especially love, affection, and courage) were present in Old English. However, the meaning “center” dates from the early 14th century.[1]

The verb sense “to love” is from the 1977 I ❤ NY advertising campaign.[1]



heart (countable and uncountable, plural hearts)

  1. (anatomy) A muscular organ that pumps blood through the body, traditionally thought to be the seat of emotion.
  2. (uncountable) One's feelings and emotions, especially considered as part of one's character.
    She has a cold heart.
    • 1852, Mrs M.A. Thompson, “The Tutor's Daughter”, in Graham's American Monthly Magazine of Literature, Art, and Fashion[1], page 266:
      In the lightness of my heart I sang catches of songs as my horse gayly bore me along the well-remembered road.
    • 1943, Katherine Woods, transl., The Little Prince, translation of original by Antoine de Saint Exupéry:
      Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
    • 1960, John Updike, 'Rabbit, Run', page 47:
      "Do what the heart commands," Tothero says. "The heart is our only guide."
  3. The seat of the affections or sensibilities, collectively or separately, as love, hate, joy, grief, courage, etc.; rarely, the seat of the understanding or will; usually in a good sense; personality.
    a good, tender, loving, bad, hard, or selfish heart
  4. Emotional strength that allows one to continue in difficult situations; courage; spirit; a will to compete.
    The team lost, but they showed a lot of heart.
    Synonyms: bravery, nerve, spirit; see also Thesaurus:courage
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book IX”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker []; [a]nd by Robert Boulter []; [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], →OCLC:
      Eve, recovering heart, replied.
    • c. 1679, William Temple, Essay:
      The expelled nations take heart, and when they fled from one country, invaded another.
    • 2008, "Rights trampled in rush to deport immigrant workers," Quaker Action (magazine), vol. 89, no. 3, page 8:
      "We provided a lot of brains and a lot of heart to the response when it was needed," says Sandra Sanchez, director of AFSC's Immigrants' Voice Program in Des Moines.
    • 2011 September 2, “Wales 2-1 Montenegrof”, in (Please provide the book title or journal name)[2]:
      The result still leaves Wales bottom of the group but in better heart for Tuesday night's trip to face England at Wembley, who are now outright leaders after their 3-0 win in Bulgaria.
    • 2016 September 28, Tom English, “Celtic 3–3 Manchester City”, in (Please provide the book title or journal name)[3], BBC Sport:
      The heart from the home team was immense. Some of them were out on their feet before the end, but they dug in, throwing themselves in front of shots and crosses, surviving.
  5. Vigorous and efficient activity; power of fertile production; condition of the soil, whether good or bad.
    • 1697, Virgil, “The First Book of the Georgics”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, page 52, lines 106–109:
      Both theſe unhappy Soils the Swain forbears, / And keeps a Sabbath of alternate Years: / That the ſpent Earth may gather heart again; / And, better'd by Ceſſation, bear the Grain.
  6. (archaic) A term of affectionate or kindly and familiar address.
    Synonyms: honey, sugar; see also Thesaurus:sweetheart
    Listen, dear heart, we must go now.
  7. (obsolete, except in the phrase "by heart") Memory.
    I know almost every Beatles song by heart.
  8. (figurative) A wight or being.
    • c. 1596–1598 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene i]:
      [] I would outstare the sternest eyes that look, / Outbrave the heart most daring on earth, / Pluck the young sucking cubs from the she-bear, / Yea, mock the lion when he roars for prey, []
  9. A conventional shape or symbol used to represent the heart, love, or emotion: .
    • 1998, Pat Cadigan, Tea From an Empty Cup, page 106:
      "Aw. Thank you." The Cherub kissed the air between them and sent a small cluster of tiny red hearts at her.
  10. (card games) A playing card of the suit hearts featuring one or more heart-shaped symbols.
  11. (cartomancy) The twenty-fourth Lenormand card.
  12. (figurative) The centre, essence, or core.
    at the heart of it all
    Synonyms: crux, gist; see also Thesaurus:gist
    The wood at the heart of a tree is the oldest.
    Buddhists believe that suffering is right at the heart of all life.
    • 1899, Robert Barr, chapter 3, in The Strong Arm:
      At last she spoke in a low voice, hesitating slightly, nevertheless going with incisive directness into the very heart of the problem.
    • 2008, BioWare, Mass Effect, Redwood City: Electronic Arts, →ISBN, →OCLC, PC, scene: Feros:
      Arcelia Silva Martinez: Watch out!/Arcelia Silva Martinez: We've got geth in the tower./Fai Dan: Protect the heart of the colony!
    • 2011 December 27, Mike Henson, “Norwich 0 - 2 Tottenham”, in BBC Sport[4]:
      Norwich's attack centred on a front pair of Steve Morison and Grant Holt, but Younes Kaboul at the heart of the Tottenham defence dominated in the air.

Derived terms[edit]


  • Torres Strait Creole: at
  • Bengali: হার্ট (harṭo)
  • Cantonese: heart
  • Cebuano: Heart
  • Irish: hart
  • Japanese: ハート (hāto); ハツ (hatsu) (from hearts)
  • Korean: 하트 (hateu)
  • Tagalog: Heart



heart (third-person singular simple present hearts, present participle hearting, simple past and past participle hearted)

  1. (transitive, humorous, informal) To be fond of. Often bracketed or abbreviated with a heart symbol. [from late 20th c.]
    Synonyms: love, less than three
    • 2001 April 6, Michael Baldwin, “The Heart Has Its Reasons”, in Commonweal:
      We're but the sum of all our terrors until we heart the dove.
    • 2006, Susan Reinhardt, Bulldog doesn't have to rely on the kindness of strangers to draw attention, Citizen-Times.com
      I guess at this point we were supposed to feel elated she'd come to her senses and decided she hearts dogs after all.
    • 2008 January 30, “Cheese in our time: Blur and Oasis to end feud with a Stilton”, in The Guardian, London:
      The further we delve into this "story", the more convinced we become of one thing: We heart the Goss.
    • 2008 July 25, "The Media Hearts Obama?", On The Media, National Public Radio
    • 2019 July 4, John Leland, “Why This Famous Graphic Designer, at 90, Still ♥s NY”, in New York Times[5]:
      Lots of people say they love their hometown, but no one hearts NY quite like Milton Glaser.
  2. (transitive) To mark a comment, post, reply, etc., with the heart symbol (❤).
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To give heart to; to hearten; to encourage.
  4. (transitive, masonry) To fill an interior with rubble, as a wall or a breakwater.
  5. (intransitive, agriculture, botany) To form a dense cluster of leaves, a heart, especially of lettuce or cabbage.

See also[edit]

Suits in English · suits (see also: cards, playing cards) (layout · text)
hearts diamonds spades clubs


  1. 1.0 1.1 Douglas Harper (2001–2024) “heart”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.

Further reading[edit]




From English heart.




  1. (Hong Kong Cantonese, figuratively) passion; determination (Classifier: c)
    heart [Cantonese]  ―  jau5 haat1 [Jyutping]  ―  passionate
    heart [Cantonese]  ―  mou5 haat1 [Jyutping]  ―  without passion