Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 14, 2019 is:

heartstring • \HAHRT-string\  • noun

: the deepest emotions or affections — usually used in plural


“While on Facebook, have you ever come across a posting that tugs at your heartstrings? Photos of adorable abandoned puppies, say, or a story about a cute little girl who didn’t get any happy birthday wishes? You instinctively click the ‘thumbs-up’ or add a comment (Happy birthday!) and maybe even decide to share the posting.” — Mary C. Hickey, Consumer Reports, June 2018

“There are two moments in ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ when the grown-ups watching really lose it: Dick Van Dyke’s arrival and when Angela Lansbury starts singing. Those are playing on a lifetime of heartstrings.” — Lin-Manuel Miranda, quoted in USA Today, 27 Dec. 2018

Did you know?

Before a song or movie or heart-shaped card accompanied by a box of chocolates could tug at your heartstrings, the job was more likely to be accomplished by a surgeon: the word heartstring used to refer to a nerve believed to sustain the heart. You might recognize the word’s second syllable in the term hamstring, which refers to both a group of tendons at the back of the knee and to any of three muscles at the backs of the upper legs. It’s also apparent in a rare dialect term for the Achilles’ tendon: heel string. And in light of these terms, it’s not surprising to know that string itself was at one time used independently to refer to cords like tendons and ligaments.

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