1 (Purple Heart) (In the US) a military decoration for those wounded or killed in action, established in 1782 and re-established in 1932.
- Kerry won the Silver and Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts (for wounds) in Vietnam, allowing him to return home in 1969.
- His other decorations included the Purple Heart and the Air Medal.
- Kerry was wounded and won five medals - three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star - while in charge of a so-called ‘Swift boat’ on the Mekong Delta.
2A large tree of the rainforests of Central and South America, with dark purplish-brown timber that blackens on contact with water.
- Genus Peltogyne, family Leguminosae: several species, in particular P. paniculata.
- Many trees change color once they are cut but the tropical American tree called purpleheart is especially famous for its chameleon-like quality.
3British informal A mauve-colored heart-shaped stimulant tablet, especially of amphetamine.
- Back at my old grammar school I learned from an old classmate that purple hearts - an illegal tablet popular in the Sixties - were on sale from pushers for half a crown in the senior common room.
- The prospects of the Mods of Britain, darting off on their Italian scooters to seaside towns to rumble on bank holidays, hardly seems likely without little pills they affectionately called Purple Hearts.
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Syllabification: pur·ple heart
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