See more synonyms for heartrending on Thesaurus.com

Origin of heartrending

First recorded in 1680–90; heart + rending
Related formsheart·rend·ing·ly, adverb
Can be confusedgut-wrenching heartrending
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for heart-rending

Contemporary Examples of heart-rending

Historical Examples of heart-rending

  • 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


  1. causing great mental pain and sorrow
Derived Formsheart-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

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