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The meaning and origin of the expression: Stony-hearted

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Cruel and unfeeling.


The phrase is first recorded in 1569, in Thomas Underdown's translation of the Æthiopian History of Heliodorus:

" There is no man so stoany harted, but he shal be made to yeelde with our flatteringe allurmentes."

Portrait of William ShakespeareShakespeare picked it up and used it in Henry IV Part I , 1597

I am accursed to rob in that thief's company: the rascal hath removed my horse, and tied him I know not where. If I travel but four foot by the squier further afoot, I shall break my wind. Well, I doubt not but to die a fair death for all this, if I 'scape hanging for killing that rogue. I have forsworn his company hourly any time this two and twenty years, and yet I am bewitched with the rogue's company. If the rascal hath not given me medicines to make me love him, I'll be hanged; it could not be else: I have drunk medicines. Poins! Hal! a plague upon you both! Bardolph! Peto! I'll starve ere I'll rob a foot further. An 'twere not as good a deed as drink, to turn true man and to leave these rogues, I am the veriest varlet that ever chewed with a tooth. Eight yards of uneven ground is threescore and ten miles afoot with me; and the stony-hearted villains know it well enough: a plague upon it when thieves cannot be true one to another!

See other phrases and sayings from Shakespeare.