What Does Bleeding Heart Mean?

Bleeding Heart Meaning

Definition: Someone who overly emotional about certain issues, usually political.

A bleeding heart is a person who is very emotional about certain issues. In politics, the term “bleeding heart liberal” is frequently used to describe someone with left-leaning policies and is very emotional about the poor, the downtrodden, the environment, etc.

People who feel very intensely about a subject may often cry about it. If a person is a bleeding heart, he or she feels so dramatically that it is as if his or her entire heart cries (of course, a heart would cry blood).

Origin of Bleeding Heart

bleeding heart liberalDepictions of Jesus on the cross often have pictures of a literal bleeding heart to represent his pain and how much he cared for people. Some believe that this is the origin of the idiom bleeding heart.

In the Middle Ages, there was a group called the Order of the Bleeding Heart, which prayed to the Virgin Mary, who is often depicted in iconography with a picture of a heart pierced with swords.

In the 1930s, the American newspaper Westbrook Pegler made the phrase more popular. Eleanor Roosevelt was attacked and called a bleeding heart by this paper.

Examples of Bleeding Heart

Calling someone a bleeding heart is an insult, meaning that they are overdramatic in how much they care for and worry about other people, so much so that a bleeding heart lets personal feelings and emotions interrupt discussions of fact and reason.

bleeding heart politicsAn individual who is constantly protesting on behalf of multiple groups would be a bleeding heart because he is going out of his way for so many people. Often, this refers to political ideas. For example, if somebody flies to a different state to protest the building of a pipeline, he or she would likely be called a bleeding heart.

Someone might tell a chronic worrier who is expressing concerns about the people around her,

  • You are stressing out too much! You are such a bleeding heart that it is not good for you!

More Examples

  • But she never suspected she would date someone as politically active as Blair — a former Planned Parenthood activist, enthusiastic wearer of Hillary Clinton leggings and self-labeled bleeding heart liberal (see: arm tattoo). –Indianapolis Star
  • Also, she was the empathetic one, the rebellious one, the one with the bleeding heart. –Houston Chronicle


A bleeding heart is someone who is overly empathetic or invested in others’ problems. This term is generally considered an insult because bleeding hearts allow emotion to cloud reason and sound judgement.