Heartthrob is a closed compound word. A compound word is a word derived from two or more separate words used together to create another word. Compound words are new words that have a different meaning than the definitions of the original words. Compound words are usually composed of two nouns, or an adjective and a noun. New compound words usually consist of two or more separate words, and are called open compound words. Midway through their evolution, compound words may acquire hyphens between the two or more words. A hyphenated compound word is a compound that is composed of two or more words linked by hyphens. Hyphenated compound words are the most likely type of compound words to be composed of two adjectives or two verbs. Hyphenated compound words are often coined by writers, as J.K. Rowling did when she created the phrase He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to describe Lord Voldemort. In general, hyphenated compound words are midway on the journey between being rendered as separate words to being rendered as one word. When a compound becomes a closed compound word, which consists of two or more words joined without any hyphen or space, it has usually been in use for a long time. The advent of the internet has sped up the process of becoming a closed compound word. Understanding words that are compound words will expand one’s basic English vocabulary. We will examine the meaning of the word heartthrob, its etymology, and some examples of its use in a sentence or two.

A heartthrob is the object of romantic desire; a heartthrob is almost always a male. The term heartthrob often refers to teen age pop idols who are employed as actors or musicians, but it may be used in conversation to refer to any young, attractive person—almost always male. The idea is that one’s heart beats faster when looking at or in the presence of a heartthrob. The compound word heartthrob came into use in the 1800 to literally mean the strong beat of one’s heart; the term came to mean a male object of romantic desire in the 1920s, when many slang terms came into use.


A Bermudian serving as a patrolman in a US police force was promoted to heartthrob status after a cheeky social-media message to his sergeant went viral. (Royal Gazette)

‘Roar’ singer Katy Perry and ‘Twilight’ heartthrob Robert Pattinson have been friends for about a decade now; she reportedly helped him find closure when he broke up with Kristen Stewart. (Gulf News)

Eventually, the multiple Oscar winner’s increasingly packed schedule took Hanks out of the running and Hollywood heartthrob Tom Cruise became the obvious choice. (Newsweek)

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