There’s a dictionary saying heft means weight, but what does heft mean in the phrase of “weight and heft”? Is it "weight and weight"? I think there might be some difference between weight and heft, but I don’t know for sure. I’d be happy if you could help me.

  • When "heft" is used as a noun, it means weight. However, it is used more often as a verb, in which case it means approximately "to lift in order to determine weight". – yoozer8 Feb 24 '12 at 3:43
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    Heft is more likely to mean mass than weight. One tests the "heft" of something by moving it about and seeing what resistance it offers to the motion. In a 1-G field, there's little difference, but in 0-G environments a thing can still have heft while being weightless. – John Lawler Feb 24 '12 at 3:57
  • I've removed the american-english tag. This Australian thinks there's nothing specific to American English in the question or the answers. – Concrete Gannet Feb 24 '12 at 6:56
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    @totoro: If you're seeking to improve your English skills, I'd advise you to simply forget about the word "heft" completely. It was relatively uncommon even a couple of centuries ago; if you use it today most people will either not understand, or think your vocabulary is "quaint". – FumbleFingers Feb 24 '12 at 14:32
  • @FumbleFingers: Thanks. I’ll do that. (Now I personally think this expression is similar to expressions in written contracts, like ‘null and void’, though it might be wrong.) – user7493 Feb 24 '12 at 23:43

While 'weight' is defined as the downward force on an object due to gravity, heft, in the context of your question, has a more subjective connotation usually involving the "feel" of the object in the hand- 'Hefting' an object usually involves picking up an object and making small motions with it to determine how it feels in the hand. The more flimsy an object feels the less heft it is perceived to have.

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A manufacturer will assess the weight of an axe before production.

A psychopath will assess the heft of an axe before a rampage.

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Typically, I see weight as a noun and heft as a verb (weight being the downward force that is a result of mass and gravity, and is what we feel; heft being the action of lifting an item to test its weight).

As we can see here, the phrase "weight and heft" has become increasingly popular over the past couple decades.

"weight and heft" nGram

However, we see that when comparing "weight" and "heft", the word "weight" is so much more popular than the word "heft" that it looks as though "heft" is not used at all.

"weight" vs "heft" nGram

When we look here at the actual definitions of the two words (weight and heft), we see:

weight: the amount or quantity of heaviness or mass; amount a thing weighs.


heft(n): weight; heaviness (v): to test the weight of by lifting and balancing

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  • Your own source says heft is a noun! I think it is perfectly fine as a noun. – Concrete Gannet Feb 24 '12 at 6:43
  • I did say typically... – yoozer8 Feb 24 '12 at 13:20

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