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[hahrt-ren-ding] /ˈhɑrtˌrɛn dɪŋ/
causing or expressing intense grief, anguish, or distress.
Origin of heartrending
First recorded in 1680-90; heart + rending
Related forms
heartrendingly, adverb
Can be confused
gut-wrenching, heartrending. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for heart-rending
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Wasn't it heart-rending, that knick-knack shop which they had stuck beside it?

  • Clement asked at last, in a heart-rending voice; "why did you do this cruel thing?"

    Henry Dunbar M. E. Braddon
  • Oh, what heart-rending scenes sin has introduced into the world!

  • It was heart-rending to hear their wailings, and cries of distress, and calls for help.

    Winning His Way

    Charles Carleton Coffin
  • But the heart-rending thing was the humble protests of the servants.

    The O'Ruddy Stephen Crane
British Dictionary definitions for heart-rending


causing great mental pain and sorrow
Derived Forms
heart-rendingly, adverb
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
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Word Origin and History for heart-rending

also heartrending, heart rending, 1680s, from heart + present participle of rend. Related: Heart-rendingly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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