plural noun

the deepest feelings; the strongest affections: to tug at one's heartstrings.

Origin of heartstrings

First recorded in 1475–85; heart + strings
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for heartstrings

Contemporary Examples of heartstrings

Historical Examples of heartstrings

  • Besides, though Cassy had laughed, there had been a tugging at her heartstrings.

    The Paliser case

    Edgar Saltus

  • Her heartstrings were at a dangerous stretch, she quivering at the point of tears.

    Little Novels of Italy

    Maurice Henry Hewlett

  • I have had no other success that pulled at my heartstrings like that one.

    My Antonia

    Willa Cather

  • Instead of this, I have to wait for you, a prey to fears that tear at my heartstrings.

  • The Colonel would have given her his heartstrings if Polly had required them.


    Thomas Nelson Page

British Dictionary definitions for heartstrings


pl n

often facetious deep emotions or feelings

Word Origin for heartstrings

C15: originally referring to the tendons supposed to support the heart
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 heartstrings

late 15c., originally literal, in old anatomy theory "the tendons and nerves that brace the heart;" from heart + string (n.). Transferred and figurative sense from 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper