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[hahrt-ren-ding] /ˈhɑrtˌrɛn dɪŋ/
causing or expressing intense grief, anguish, or distress.
Origin of heartrending
1680-90; heart + rending
Related forms
heartrendingly, adverb
Can be confused
gut-wrenching, heartrending. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for heart-rending
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • On this point Abélard quotes, with stolidest approval, one of the most heart-rending of anecdotes.

    Renaissance Fancies and Studies Violet Paget (AKA Vernon Lee)
  • Clement asked at last, in a heart-rending voice; "why did you do this cruel thing?"

    Henry Dunbar M. E. Braddon
  • Here is such a tragedy going on, such a heart-rending tragedy—Mary, you are blinking your eyes again.

  • Oh, what heart-rending scenes sin has introduced into the world!

  • Many of the disclosures might almost better have never seen the light, so heart-rending were they.

    History of the Johnstown Flood Willis Fletcher Johnson
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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