See also: Heart


Diagram of the human heart.
The ace of hearts.

Alternative formsEdit


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

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) Emotions, kindness, moral effort, or spirit in general.
    The team lost, but they showed a lot of 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.
    • 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.
    • 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. (Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943)
  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. Courage; courageous purpose; spirit.
    Synonyms: bravery, nerve; see also Thesaurus:courage
    • 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.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 9”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554:
      Eve, recovering heart, replied.
    • c. 1679, William Temple, Essay
      The expelled nations take heart, and when they fled from one country, invaded another.
  5. Vigorous and efficient activity; power of fertile production; condition of the soil, whether good or bad.
    • 1697, “The First Book of the Georgics”, in Virgil; John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], OCLC 403869432, lines 106–109, page 52:
      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. Personality, disposition.
    a cold heart
  8. (figuratively) A wight or being.
    • c. 1596-97, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act II scene i[6]:
      [] 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: or sometimes <3.
    • 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. A playing card of the suit hearts featuring one or more heart-shaped symbols.
  11. (cartomancy) The twenty-fourth Lenormand card.
  12. (figuratively) The centre, essence, or core.
    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.
    • 2011 December 27, Mike Henson, “Norwich 0 - 2 Tottenham”, in BBC Sport[7]:
      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.
    • 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.

Derived termsEdit


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


See heart/translations § Noun.


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", 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,
      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", 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[8]:
      Lots of people say they love their hometown, but no one hearts NY quite like Milton Glaser.
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To give heart to; to hearten; to encourage.
  3. (transitive, masonry) To fill an interior with rubble, as a wall or a breakwater.
  4. (intransitive, agriculture, botany) To form a dense cluster of leaves, a heart, especially of lettuce or cabbage.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Douglas Harper (2001–2021), “heart”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.

Further readingEdit