I know that the English language has an expression, 'to know something by heart', that alludes to the heart but whose meaning is 'to know something from memory'.

I've discovered that this link between the heart and the memory was something that people believed at least in the 18th century and way before. This originated some Spanish words such as recordar 'remember', 'remind'. Recordar comes from Latin recordari and this one from cor 'heart', according to Spanish etymologist Joan Corominas.

So now I'm curious. Apart from the expression mentioned above, is there an English word (not an expression) whose meaning refers to 'mind' or 'memory', but whose etymology refers to 'heart'?

  • The heart was the mind: "Most of the modern figurative senses were present in Old English, including "memory" (from the notion of the heart as the seat of all mental faculties, now only in by heart, which is from late 14c.)" etymonline.com/word/heart
    – Kris
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 6:47
  • 1
    From a Comment in Language Log: "Going back to the Greeks, the cephallocentric view had battled in Western thought with the rival cardiocentric (= "mind is in the heart") view, with such thinkers as Aristotle (not reputed to be much of a down-on-Western-style-rationality mystic . . .) usually being assigned to the cardiocentric camp, and no one knowing quite how to settle the issue definitively for many many centuries." languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=14807 (emphasis mine)
    – Kris
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 7:03
  • 1
    @Kris A comment worthy of 'answer' status even though inappropriate. Wasn't there a 'renocentric' view as well? / As many believe in an afterlife, there is an argument that 'mind is in the brain' is better expressed 'spirit-soul complex has a complex association with the brain during a person's earthly existence'. Commented May 31, 2018 at 9:22
  • Heart is used in many expressions to mean "mind". How about "deep in my heart I know..."
    – Mr Lister
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 9:23
  • @Mr Lister In the Bible, 'heart' is arguably used at times for the soul (seat of self-awareness, thinking, reasoning, volition, emotions – possessed by all sentient species), at times for the seat of emotions component alone, and at times for spirit (organ of relating to God – possessed only by humans). Commented May 31, 2018 at 9:26

2 Answers 2


If you're ok with words/meanings that aren't still in use I found some words that match that description.

One is "perqueer", which is Scottish:

Once widespread, this  word may now have slipped out of use. It comes from Old French ‘par queur’, which translates directly into English as ‘by heart’.
Scots Language Centre

There's also "record", which is obviously a cognate to "recordar"—both words are ultimately from the same Latin word. According to the OED one obsolete definition of record is:

To learn by heart, to commit to memory, to go over in one's mind; (also) to repeat or say over as a lesson or portion of memorized text, to recite.

Here's an example of this sense:

Some men..giue them [sc. children] masters to teach them to scoffe and bite at euery man, as if they had but recorded their lesson.
Thomas Lodge: Complete works, a1625

Another word like this is an old, now-obsolete (and probably pretty rare—even when it was in use) sense of "cordial" also meaning "by heart". "Cordial" itself comes from the medieval Latin word "cordialis". Here's an example of "cordial" in this sense:

I not aqueynted of birth naturall With frenshe his verray trew parfightnesse, Nor enpreyntyd is in mynde cordiall.
The romans of Partenay, or of Lusignen, c1475

  • 1
    I love obsolete words/meanings! Nice answer!
    – Charlie
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 8:33
  • 2
    For all that, you could include discord and concord in the sense of being of one/different mind(s).
    – KarlG
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 9:05


  1. A 2015 movie in which a former World Heavyweight Champion...

O, wrong Creed... Another try...

  1. any system, doctrine, or formula of religious belief, as of a denomination.

  2. any system or codification of belief or of opinion.

Etymology: From Latin credo "I believe". From PIE compound *kerd-dhe- "to believe," literally "to put one's heart".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.