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 formsheart·less·ly, adverbheart·less·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for heartless

Contemporary Examples of heartless

Historical Examples of heartless

  • There was something so ruthless in the boy, so overbearing and heartless.


    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • You think that I am heartless, and have been playing with you.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • And, how about the heartless girl—did you ever see her again, Uncle Jim?

  • I reject you, and all of your kith and kin—all the false, hollow, heartless stock.'

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

  • Reckless, thoughtless, heartless, he plunges headlong again.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

British Dictionary definitions for heartless



unkind or cruel; hard-hearted
Derived Formsheartlessly, adverbheartlessness, 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

Word Origin and History for heartless

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