The heart shape (♥) is an ideograph used to express the idea of the "heart" in its metaphorical or symbolic sense as the center of emotion, including affection and love, especially romantic love.
The combination of the heart shape and its use within the heart metaphor developed at the end of the Middle Ages, although the shape has been used in many ancient epigraphy monuments and texts. With possible early examples or direct predecessors in the 13th to 14th century, the familiar symbol of the heart representing love developed in the 15th century, and became popular in Europe during the 16th. Before the 14th century, the heart shape was not associated with the meaning of the heart metaphor. The geometric shape itself is found in much earlier sources, but in such instances does not depict a heart, but typically foliage: in examples from antiquity fig leaves, and in medieval iconography and heraldry typically the leaves of ivy and of the water-lily.
Since the 19th century, the symbol has often been used on Valentine's Day cards, candy boxes, and similar popular culture artifacts as a symbol of romantic love.
The use of the heart symbol as a logograph for the English verb "to love" derives from the use in "I ♥ NY," introduced in 1977.
Heart symbols were used to symbolize "health" or "lives" in video games; influentially so in The Legend of Zelda (1986). Super Mario Bros. 2 (1987, 1988) had a "life bar" composed of hexagons, but in 1990s remakes of these games, the hexagons were replaced by heart shapes. Since the 1990s, the heart symbol has also been used as an ideogram indicating health outside of the video gaming context, e.g. its use by restaurants to indicate heart-healthy nutrient content claim (e.g. "low in cholesterol").
Source: Heart (symbol) from Wikipedia
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