Definition of purple heart in English:

purple heart


  • 1(in the US) a decoration for members of the armed forces wounded or killed in action, established in 1782 and re-established in 1932.

    • ‘He won three Purple Hearts and Silver and Bronze Stars. ‘You think again of losing all that is in front of you,’ he wrote.’
    • ‘He comes home because he's wounded three times and the official rule was, three Purple Hearts, meaning three wounds, you went home.’
    • ‘Kerry returned from his 4 1/2 month stint in Vietnam with three Purple Hearts for wounds, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for gallantry.’
    • ‘The sergeant received two Purple Hearts after being wounded in Iraq.’
    • ‘That's three Purple Hearts for wounds suffered, a Bronze Star and the Silver Star for gallantry in action.’
    • ‘During the second 48-day tour, as a lieutenant in charge of a ‘Swift’ gunboat on the Mekong Delta, Kerry was awarded three Purple Hearts for wounds suffered and a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for valour.’
    • ‘Numerous pictures of Wade in his old military uniform adorned the walls, and on the wall farthest from where Cegal stood, a series of three medals hung, two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.’
    • ‘But despite winning a Silver Star and Bronze Star for bravery, and three Purple Hearts for his battle wounds, Mr Kerry returned from the Mekong Delta to America to lead the campaign against the war.’
    • ‘Bill is a WWII combat veteran who, amongst other decorations, was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds suffered.’
    • ‘His other decorations included the Purple Heart and the Air Medal.’
    • ‘The association of the Purple Heart with wounds or fatality suffered in the line of meritorious service also stems from this time.’
    • ‘His bravery resulted in him being decorated with the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for ‘meritorious achievement’.’
    • ‘Next, the Korean War resulted in nearly 137,000 Purple Hearts awarded (33,600 killed in action and 103,000 wounded in action).’
    • ‘Kerry won the Silver and Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts (for wounds) in Vietnam, allowing him to return home in 1969.’
    • ‘Numerous decorations including Purple Hearts resulted from that fierce gun fight.’
    • ‘Kerry was wounded and won five medals - three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star - while in charge of a so-called ‘Swift boat’ on the Mekong Delta.’
    • ‘Continual references to his heroism in the Vietnam war - he won three wound awards, Purple Hearts - have also been effective.’
    • ‘Hawkins stood in front of his peers as the 2nd Marine Division Commanding General presented him and seven other Marines with Purple Hearts for wounds they received while serving in Iraq.’
    • ‘Powell is the recipient of numerous U.S. military awards and decorations, including the Purple Heart.’
    • ‘Kerry earned three Purple Hearts for wounds and a Bronze Star and a Silver Star for valor serving on a gunboat in Vietnam, but in recent weeks his critics have accused him of embellishing or even lying about his wartime experiences.’
  • 2A large tree of the rainforests of Central and South America, with dark purplish-brown timber which blackens on contact with water.

    Genus Peltogyne, family Leguminosae: several species

    • ‘Many trees change color once they are cut but the tropical American tree called purpleheart is especially famous for its chameleon-like quality.’
  • 3British informal A purple heart-shaped amphetamine tablet.

    • ‘Back at my old grammar school I learned from an old classmate that purple hearts - an illegal tablet popular in the Sixties - were on sale from pushers for half a crown in the senior common room.’
    • ‘The prospects of the Mods of Britain, darting off on their Italian scooters to seaside towns to rumble on bank holidays, hardly seems likely without little pills they affectionately called Purple Hearts.’


purple heart

/ˈpəːp(ə)l hɑːt/