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heartache

heartache in its more physical sense, originates in heartburn, that is, the metastatic attribution of indigestion pains to the heart. In its more figurative sense it was coined at the beginning of the seventeenth century, in order to characterize the psychosomatic pain caused by loss or other distress due to love in its various forms. As such it becomes a core element in the anatomic vocabulary of melancholia in its cultural heyday. Not for nothing does ‘heartache’ figure amongst the afflictions to which the flesh of the arch-melancholic Hamlet is heir.

The heart is rhetorically made to ache like the head or the tooth, and this primarily in the metaphorical sense of the heart as the seat of love. The metaphor in question is, however, more properly a kind of metonym; a figure produced through a contiguous association. The ache is found with the heart. For the heart can, of course, ache almost physically in as far as it is indeed the seat and motor of the cardiac system, which registers the excitement of erotic and other passions, and is traumatized by aches and breaks when the passion is mortified or sickens and so dies.

As one part physical and several parts figurative, heartache has passed extensively into the currency of lyric poetry and from there to the stock of received ideas which are the stuff of more popular cultural lyrics, of Broadway musicals and Country and Western ballads. Common parlance in German recognizes the liability of heartache to become cliché by coupling heart (‘Herz’) with ache (‘Schmerz’) as a somewhat painful love-match of rhyme-words. The two parts of heartache thus seem to belong together, yet always as a combination which is not quite true to life.

A. Webber

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heartache

heart·ache / ˈhärtˌāk/ • n. emotional anguish or grief, typically caused by the loss or absence of someone loved.

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heartache

heartacheache, awake, bake, betake, Blake, brake, break, cake, crake, drake, fake, flake, forsake, hake, Jake, lake, make, mistake, opaque, partake, quake, rake, sake, shake, sheikh, slake, snake, splake, stake, steak, strake, take, undertake, wake, wideawake •bellyache • clambake • headache •backache • pancake • teacake •seedcake • beefcake • cheesecake •fishcake • johnnycake • tipsy cake •rock cake • shortcake • oatcake •oilcake • fruitcake • cupcake •pat-a-cake • cornflake • snowflake •rattlesnake • handbrake • mandrake •heartbreak • airbrake • daybreak •jailbreak • canebrake • windbreak •tiebreak • corncrake • outbreak •footbrake • muckrake • earache •firebreak • namesake • keepsake •handshake • milkshake • heartache •beefsteak • sweepstake • stocktake •out-take • uptake • grubstake •wapentake • toothache • seaquake •kittiwake • moonquake • earthquake

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