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tear/tug/pull at/on (one's)/the heartstrings

To elicit strong feelings of sympathy or fondness. I don't know why, but that piece of music always tears at my heartstrings. That documentary really pulls on the heartstrings—you'll want to adopt all of those kids after watching it.
See also: heartstring, on, pull, tear, tug

play on someone's heartstrings

Fig. to attempt to get sympathy from someone. She is crying so she can play on your heartstrings and try to get you to take her home.
See also: heartstring, on, play

tug at the heartstrings


tug at your heartstrings

COMMON If someone or something tugs at the heartstrings or tugs at your heartstrings, they cause you to feel pity or sadness. Miss Cookson knows exactly how to tug at readers' heartstrings. Note: You can use verbs such as pull and pluck instead of tug. Unlike many charity campaigns, it doesn't pull at the heartstrings. Note: You can also omit the word at. McLachlan tugs the heartstrings with a succession of ballads. Note: Heartstrings is used in many other structures and expressions with similar meanings. This is not a movie that aims for the heartstrings. Note: In medieval times, it was believed that `heartstrings' were tendons which supported the heart.
See also: heartstring, tug

tug at somebody’s ˈheartstrings

make somebody feel strong emotions of sadness and pity: Advertisers often use babies and children to tug at your heartstrings.
See also: heartstring, tug
References in periodicals archive ?
The singer is currently working on a new EP, which she plans to call The Girl with the Red Hair, and Heartstrings was the first single to be taken from it.
The HeartStrings campaign helps the organization maintain, improve and enhance its programs, while providing the organization with opportunities to implement new programs to meet the growing needs of the community.
Hull, along with his wife Anne, started Heartstrings as a 501(c)(3) foundation in their basement 10 years ago.
Heartstrings is an animal welfare appeal that has been operating for some time in the Highland and Islands.
Her move to a residential school tears at our heartstrings as our expectations grow for her future.
It promises to tug heartstrings and raise public awareness of multiple sclerosis.
We cannot know all of the practical and soulful implications of what is happening in this western diocese, and yet we mourn for each and every Anglican parishioner whose heartstrings have been pulled by these events.
But after reading the caption and learning that the pill consists of "melted vinyl from every Diana Ross and the Supremes Top 40 record released," and that the work's title is When Your Heartstrings Break, I Can Mend Them Back (The Supreme Solution), 1998, one might be willing see the piece as an encapsulation, as it were, of the consolatory promise of a certain kind of popular music.
We showcase wealthy disabled celebrities like Christopher Reeve and Jim Brady, who tug at our heartstrings and allow us to feel so good about how compassionate we are, while our President signs a bill that will exclude the disabled children of low-income families from the most basic forms of federal assistance.
Whatever the cause, your heartstrings will probably be zinging, too, when one of San Francisco's new-old streetcars glides your way.
In 1845 the note was changed to read: "And the angel Israfel whose heartstrings are a lute, and who has the sweetest voice of all God's creatures.
The company's ability to interact with parents, children and other adult consumers through touching heartstrings of childhood memories and the desire to educate future generations about ethnic traditions has catapulted sales of Baby Abuelita dolls.
Fledgling deaths tug at heartstrings ONE of the joys of spring is that, when summer kicks in and the gardens of England are alive with the flutter and sound of bird song, the new generation of colourful finches, sparrows and doves are a joy to behold.
Music starts at 5pm at the Westgarth with Tom Joshua up until Frankie and the Heartstrings round things off at 10.