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[hahrt-lis] /ˈhɑrt lɪs/
unfeeling; unkind; unsympathetic; harsh; cruel:
heartless words; a heartless ruler.
Archaic. lacking courage or enthusiasm; spiritless; disheartened.
Origin of heartless
1300-50; Middle English herteles, Old English heortlēas. See heart, -less
Related forms
heartlessly, adverb
heartlessness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for heartlessly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Rose Eversley began to laugh helplessly; heartlessly, her sister thought.

  • The days and months passed, heartlessly confirming my conjecture, my belief.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • This story, heartlessly and irreverently told, was the tragedy of my life!

  • Only because you are young and blind can you speak so heartlessly.

    Janet of the Dunes

    Harriet T. Comstock
  • To every appeal they heartlessly refused to divulge the key to the lock-in.

    Meeting of the Board Alan Edward Nourse
  • What may have been mechanically and heartlessly done by the overseer, is now done with a will.

    My Bondage and My Freedom Frederick Douglass
  • "Sure, leave her alone and she'll come out all right," he said heartlessly.

    Rosemary Josephine Lawrence
  • It seemed too heartlessly cruel to be true; Olive could not understand it.

    Six Girls Fannie Belle Irving
British Dictionary definitions for heartlessly


unkind or cruel; hard-hearted
Derived Forms
heartlessly, adverb
heartlessness, noun
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 heartlessly



Old English heortleas "dispirited, dejected;" see heart + -less. In Middle English with expanded senses "lacking in courage; foolish; listless; half-hearted; sluggish." Sense of "callous, cruel" is not certainly attested before Shelley used it in 1816. Literal meaning "lacking a heart, lifeless" (mid-15c.) is rare. Related: Heartlessly; heartlessness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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