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I'm writing an email about something nice (a newborn child), and was about to use the word "heartfelt". Just then, I noticed I may have heard the word almost exclusively in the context of a sad situation (condolence).

Is there a good reason for my hesitation, or is "heartfelt" appropriate in either situation? If not, what's a better choice of a word? How about "heartily"?

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Though by definition there is no such negative connotation, collocation/ usage seems to have rendered it so. I think heartiest (even hearty) is a more popular adjective in the context. Heartfelt collocates more in an unhappy context, yes. –  Kris Nov 23 '13 at 12:10
    
This web page suggests that "heartfelt" is an appropriate expression to use to congratulate someone: words-to-use.com/words/congratulations It also offers many other fixed phrases which you could use instead, if you still feel uncomfortable. –  Mari-Lou A Dec 21 '13 at 7:31

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

"Heartfelt" can be used to express positive feelings:

Her joy was truly heartfelt!

You have our heartfelt thanks.

But it is most commonly associated with sorrow or grief. When in doubt, choose a different word.

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You may well be right. Sincere would be a neutral alternative.

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