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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 heartlessly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Perhaps when a man has been heartlessly slighted he turns unconsciously to the woman of whose undoubted love he is vaguely aware.

    Moth and Rust Mary Cholmondeley
  • This story, heartlessly and irreverently told, was the tragedy of my life!

  • He did this because he would not be one of the hated noble class of his own country, who treated the poor so heartlessly.

    Tales from Dickens Charles Dickens and Hallie Erminie Rives
  • Only because you are young and blind can you speak so heartlessly.

    Janet of the Dunes Harriet T. Comstock
  • And again she laughed, as I thought, flippantly, heartlessly.

    The Passion for Life Joseph Hocking
  • To every appeal they heartlessly refused to divulge the key to the lock-in.

    Meeting of the Board Alan Edward Nourse
  • In the pictures of Knaus one is annoyed by the deliberate smirk, by his exaggerated 202 and heartlessly frigid observation.

  • How heartlessly blooming you are looking, Anne, while your parent is suffering.

    Moth and Rust Mary Cholmondeley
British Dictionary definitions for heartlessly


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 heartlessly



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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