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

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 ?
Producer ploy to tug at heartstrings I AGREE with Barbara Dunn's comment regarding talent shows that, 'participants should be judged on their talent and not because they have a sob story to tell' (Talkback, July 20).
WILL PG A LOVE letter to Liverpool FC and a modern fairytale, this movie will tug at heartstrings.
In an apparent attempt to tug at heartstrings, the Ira-nian authorities also released a letter from Leading Seaman Turney to her parents shortly before the footage was broadcast.
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.