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Sep 30 2010   6:45PM GMT

Is that heart-rending or heart-rendering?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
When I responded to a __________ email message from the widow of the deposed King of Nigeria, I was surprised to find myself the victim of a phishing scam.
a. heart-rending
b. heart-rendering


Answer: a.

Explanation:
The expression is “heart-rending.”

To rend is to tear — something that rends your heart rips it apart, like a tale of terrible injustice and tragedy. To render, on the other hand, is to give or supply, as in rendering a verdict. An alternate meaning of render is “to melt down fat.” No matter how pathetic the story was, it wouldn’t give your heart or cook the fat out of it.

Nevertheless, you can’t be too careful — take those messages from deposed royalty with a grain of salt.

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  • Deborahtomasi
    This note was very helpful.
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