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'Break his/her heart' is usually used to convey the sadness after a break up. But can it also be used to say how sad a person is?

For instance: "Seeing her so weak and fragile broke John's heart into thousand pieces"?

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I would agree with your example, however, the image in "into thousand pieces" seems quite exaggerating. Other examples may help you:

  • He is a broken-hearted man (He is sad, frustrated).
  • She is a heart-breaking girl (She often breaks boys' hearts).
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  • Welcome. But I don't think it's a good idea to thank someone in the comment- it should only be used for discussion or clarification, as far as I read the rules. – Arch Capital Jul 12 '18 at 6:22
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The term "heart-breaking" can relate to experiences other than the end of a romantic relationship or, indeed, any personal involvement at all. One of the most common is seeing a photograph of a terrible event or its aftermath.

There are many examples of this use of "heart-breaking" on line and in other places but this list of "2017's most heartbreaking photos" from news.com.au is a good example. It includes images of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, starving children in Syria, the plight of the Rohingya fleeing Myanmar and many other events small and large.

This is only one example of a website using "heart-breaking" in ways not associated with romantic loss but it does serve to illustrate the practice which is very common.

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