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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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for heartless
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • When he is listening, I say all the horrid, cynical, heartless things I can think of.

    The Ordeal of Elizabeth Elizabeth Von Arnim
  • But heartless,” said his lordship pathetically; “she hasn't one bit of heart.

    Robert Orange John Oliver Hobbes
  • Hatto is said to have been ambitious, heartless, and perfidious, as well as cruel towards the poor.

    Legends of the Rhine Wilhelm Ruland
  • And the man who had engineered that heartless revenge was riding beside her.

    Brand Blotters William MacLeod Raine
  • Friends who knew his noble nature could not sit by and hear him denounced as a heartless and eccentric profligate.

    They and I Jerome K. Jerome
British Dictionary definitions for heartless


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 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
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