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

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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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

tug at the heartstrings

or

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
"It pulls at the heartstrings a little bit, but the situation is great for him," Popovich told reporters over the weekend as he looked ahead to the game.
'It really pulls at the heartstrings. The arrival of Czech soldiers has also brought the war home.
The recording pulls at the heartstrings as the credits roll.
The Dishwashers pulls at the heartstrings and David Essex is perfectly positioned for that.
Elaine explains: "The romanticism of the characters and the era in which the novels are written, captures my imagination, whilst the heart breaking reality of the Bronte family's tragic untimely deaths pulls at the heartstrings.
In this case, the 'true to life' interaction between Kajol and her 'son' pulls at the heartstrings of any parent.
Penned by Forrest Gump script writer Eric Roth, the film really pulls at the heartstrings, but Fincher''s greatest achievement here is that the impressive CGI depicting the reverse ageing process doesn''t overshadow the touching story.
Tonights highlights include a 50 year old Brummie with dreams of rock stardom and a 22 year old woman who pulls at the heartstrings of fellow Geordie Cheryl.
Yorn, who performs Sunday at the House of Blues Boston, unleashes a cathartic purging of confessional poetry and melancholic musings on "Don't Wanna Cry." Proving that big men, in fact, do cry, Yorn takes the Roy Orbison route and pulls at the heartstrings while strumming his acoustic guitar.
Good points: It's a very well-made film from Nick 'The Notebook' Cassavetes and really pulls at the heartstrings. There are excellent performances all round, especially from the strong female cast which includes Joan Cusack as a judge.
Anjelica Huston pulls at the heartstrings as his demented hospital-bound mother in this quixotic slice of life, peppered with hysterical comic interludes.
FINAL VERDICT Pulls at the heartstrings, but doesn't quite work as a drama.
It would cost the state $25 million to fund merit pay, which "pulls at the heartstrings of teachers." Vogel says.
The audience is prepared for music that pulls at the heartstrings and challenges the intellect.
Home Is Where The Heart Is (ITV1, 9pm) IT'S a novel idea - we'll give them that - and the nation does seem to love a story that pulls at the heartstrings.