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bleeding heart

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noun
  1. any of various plants belonging to the genus Dicentra, of the fumitory family, especially D. spectabilis, a common garden plant having long, one-sided clusters of rose or red heart-shaped flowers.
  2. a person who makes an ostentatious or excessive display of pity or concern for others.

Origin of bleeding heart

First recorded in 1685–95
Related formsbleed·ing-heart, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for bleeding heart

bleeding heart

noun
  1. any of several plants of the genus Dicentra, esp the widely cultivated Japanese species D. spectabilis, which has finely divided leaves and heart-shaped nodding pink flowers: family Fumariaceae
  2. informal
    1. a person who is excessively softhearted
    2. (as modifier)a bleeding-heart liberal
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bleeding heart

n.

type of flowering plant, so called from 1690s. In the sense of "person excessively sympathetic" (especially toward those the speaker deems not to deserve it) is attested by 1951, but said by many to have been popularized with reference to liberals (especially Eleanor Roosevelt) in 1930s by newspaper columnist Westbrook Pegler (1894-1969), though quotations are wanting; bleeding in a figurative sense of "generous" is from late 16c., and the notion of one's heart bleeding as a figure of emotional anguish is from late 14c., but the exact image here may be the "bleeding heart of Jesus."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper