All About the Chinese Word for heart (心 xīn) Posted by on Dec 14, 2020 in Vocabulary

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One of my biggest concerns when using a foreign language is to be misunderstood. Especially when talking about feelings and emotions. In this kind of conversation, the Chinese word for heart (心 xīn) is very useful.

心 is a short of 心脏 (xīn zàng), which means heart, and refers to the physical organ. As in the Chinese medical terms: 心脏病 (xīn zàng bìng, heart disease), 心脏学 (xīn zàng xué, cardiology), 心脏衰竭 (xīn zàng shuāi jié, heart failure), etc. For example:


Xīn zàng shì rén zuì zhòng yào de qì guān.

The heart is the most important organ.


Tā xīn zàng yǐ tíng zhǐ tiào dòng.

His heart has stopped beating.


The sole character 心 (xīn) represents the physical body part. It is mentioned when describing the heart pace. For example:


Wǒ de xīn kuáng tiào bù yǐ.

My heart beat wildly. 


Tā de xīn pū pū dì tiào.

His heart throbbed.

心 is also part of the phrase 心跳 (xīn tiào) which means heartbeat, pulse. For example:


Yī xiǎng dào tā yào lái, tā de xīn tiào jiù jiā sù le.

His heart beat faster when he thought of her coming.


The metaphorical sense of the heart as the center of one’s emotion, affection and love, is common in many languages. The Chinese character 心 is a symbol of love, especially romantic love. A famous Chinese love song is called 月亮代表我的心 (yuè liàng dài biǎo wǒ de xīn), meaning the moon represents my heart. The singer confesses a deep love and tells:


Qīng qīng de yī gè wěn yǐ jīng dǎ dòng wǒ de xīn.

One soft kiss has already moved my heart.


心 alone also expresses abstract meanings, related to one’s mind, heart and soul. Such as: feelings, emotions, thoughts, temperament, ideas, and even personal characters. The Chinese language attributes all these to the heart. For example:


Yǒu xiē rén shì hǎo xīn hǎo yì, dàn bù yī dìng zhēn zhèng néng bāng dé shàng máng.

Some people are kind, but they may not really be able to help.


Tā de xīn zhēn hēi!

He’s so wicked!


Tā xīn lǐ bù gāo xìng, méi yǒu xiàng dà jiā gào cí.

He was unhappy and left without saying goodbye to everyone.


Tā xīn zhōng shí fēn nǎo huǒ.

He was very angry.


Tā xīn li yǒu gù lǜ, bù gǎn shuō chū shì qíng de zhēn xiàng.

He was very concerned, and dared not tell the truth.


Jǐn zhāng de qíng xù jiū zhù le wǒ de xīn.

Nervousness gripped my heart.


Tīng le zhè xiāo xī wǒ xīn lǐ hěn bù ān.

I was very disturbed after hearing the news.


The character 心 is part of many phrases. Here is a list of just a few:

Practice makes perfect. Use any advantage to practice: read a lot, listen to the radio even if you don’t understand most of the talking, and don’t skip the writing. When your hand is struggling with the pen, your mind works as well. Luckily, with only four strokes, 心 is one of the easiest character to write. Watch how to write:



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  1. Pratima:

    Hi, I like your blogs, and have just stumbled onto them.
    I have fun learning chinese and it is difficult to learn initially. Yesterday, I had so much fun reading into google translate to perfect my pronunciation, because each time, the english translation was another new sentence.
    I think reading your blog is another way into language immersion. Please continue with your wonderful blogs, I will comment now and then


    • Ayana:

      @Pratima Thank you so much for your comment! It means a lot to me.
      Learning a new language is difficult, indeed. But if you are motivated you are halfway there. And you are right – learning Chinese is extremely fun.
      Always feel free to leave comments and ask questions. 🙂

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