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 ?
ON RACING'S greatest day the famous Aintree turf was left sodden, first through pouring rain and then a waterfall of tears as the race that so often tugs at heartstrings did so like rarely before, with Mouse Morris producing maiden chaser Rule The World to deliver the most emotional Grand National triumph imaginable.
Coupled with a heartwarming theme song, the Yakap campaign truly tugs at heartstrings with the jingle's rich folk sound and sentimental lyrics.