Hearts (suit)

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Native names
Invented15th century

Hearts (, ) (French: Cœur, German: Herz) is one of the four playing card suits in a deck of French-suited and German-suited playing cards. However, the symbol is slightly different: Symbol: Herz is used in a French deck while Symbol: Herz is used in a German deck.

This suit was invented in 15th century Germany and is a survivor from a large pool of experimental suit signs created to replace the Latin suits. The French design was created around 1480 when French suits were invented and was a simplified version of the existing German suit symbol for hearts in a German-suited pack.[1]

In Swiss-suited playing cards, the equivalent suit is Roses, typically with the following suit symbol: .


In Bridge, for which in Germany the French deck is common, it is called by its French name, Cœur. In games using German-suited cards the suit of Hearts is often called "Red" (Rot), e.g. the Unter of Hearts would be the "Red Unter" (Rotunter or Rot-Unter) and the Nine of Hearts the "Red Nine" (Rotneun or Rot-Neun). In the game of Watten, the King of Hearts is the highest Trump. In Tiến Lên, Hearts are the highest-ranked suit.

The origin of the term "heart" to describe the symbol, which only very marginally resembles a true heart, is not known.[2] In general, equivalents in other languages also mean "heart".


The heart typically has a form of cardioid, the lower part of which ends in a point. The symbol is drawn with its tip down, the two lobes of the cardioid pointing upwards. Generally, the hearts are coloured red.

French pattern[edit]

The following gallery shows the hearts of a standard 52-card deck of French-suited playing cards. Not shown is the Knight of Hearts, used in tarot card games:

German pattern[edit]

The gallery below shows a suit of Hearts from a German-suited playing cards of 32 cards. The pack is of the Saxonian pattern:

Four-colour packs[edit]

The four aces of a four-color deck; here, Hearts are red.

Four-color decks are sometimes used in tournaments or online.[3] In such packs Hearts may be:

  • red ♥ in almost poker packs
  • yellow ♥ in some other four-colour packs.


The symbol ♥ is already in the CP437 and therefore also in the WGL4. In Unicode, a black heart ♥ and a white ♡ heart are defined:

Symbol Unicode Entity in HTML
U+2665 BLACK HEART SUIT ♥ or ♥
Example from Dingbats for one of the other forms of heart:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dummett, Michael (1980). The Game of Tarot. London: Duckworth. pp. 10–32.
  2. ^ K. McDonell (13 February 2007). "The Shape of My Heart - Where did the ubiquitous Valentine's symbol come from?". Slate.
  3. ^ Allan, Elkan; Mackay, Hannah (2007). The poker encyclopedia. London: Portico. p. 155. ISBN 978-1906-03209-8.