"Cheney still hearts waterboarding. 'Are you going to trade the lives of a number of people because you want to preserve your honor?' he asked, his voice dripping with contempt. 'I don't lie awake at night thinking, gee, what are they going to say about me?' he sums up."

What does it mean hearts waterboarding?

Source: https://reddit.com/r/politics...

  • 4
    Think emoji, what does this ❤ mean?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 8:20
  • The quote looks to be from here: nytimes.com/2013/03/06/opinion/dowd-repent-dick-cheney.html (I wondered if the original might have had the ❤ emoji, but no, it's spelled out there too.)
    – ilkkachu
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 17:21
  • 5
    That is an editorial by Maureen Dowd, who is known for playing with the language. Earlier in the editorial she writes: The documentary doesn’t get to the dark heart of the matter about the man with the new heart. Did he change, after the shock to his body of so many heart procedures and the shock to his mind of 9/11?
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 19:00
  • 2
    You already have some good answers below. I'll just add that some well-known examples include "I Heart Huckabees" (movie title) and "iHeartRadio" (radio broadcasting). Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 19:09
  • If you Google "heart definition", you should get something like "like very much; love".
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 22:30

4 Answers 4


It means "Cheney ❤️ waterboarding"

In graffitti or text-speak you often write "loves" with a heart symbol, and here the graffiti style is being represented in words with "hearts"

  • 5
    I would say that the association with graffiti (or t-shirts like the famous "I ❤️ NY") makes the meaning slightly more nuanced - "Cheney loves waterboarding, and wants everyone to know he does". I don't know how many people would agree with my interpretation though.
    – kaya3
    Commented Jan 20, 2022 at 23:57
  • 1
    @kaya3, "Cheney loves waterboarding, and wants everyone to know he does" Well the inspiration for that joke may have been Sacha Baron Cohen's interview of Cheney. twitter.com/SachaBaronCohen/status/1016082033099997184 Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 13:26
  • 6
    And the word choice emphasizes the cognitive dissonance of seeing somebody who is emotionally invested in torture, by juxtaposing "waterboarding" and a cutesy symbol used by 13 year old girls for their pet bunnies. Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 23:12
  • @Peter-ReinstateMonica The 13 year old girl in me no longer feels comfortable using the heart symbol for my pet bunnies. Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 6:07

It's a verbal description of a heart-shaped symbol as a logogram for the word "love". Though the widespread use of emoji has made such logograms more common, this particular usage goes back several decades. An old ad campaign promoting tourism in New York state used it in 1977; I suspect that was not the first such usage, though.

The word "heart" itself, as a result, is used colloquially as a synonym for "love". The earliest citation given in the Oxford English Dictionary, amusingly, is a backlash against the use of the symbol in such contexts:

[1983 Gazette (Montreal) 3 May c8/1 I'm delighted to see there's finally been a revolt against the annoying use of a stylized little red heart in place of the word ‘love’—as in ‘I (heart) New York’.]


It likely originates from the "I ❤ NY" advertising campaign in the late 70s to promote New York as a tourist destination.
It was very popular as a t-shirt design, set out like this.

enter image description here

Image & article - WIkipedia - I Love New York

It's supposed to be pronounced as "I Love New York" but increasingly became parodied as, "I heart New York" and there was even a movie in 2004 called "I Heart Huckabees",
"i ❤ huckabees" was used as the 'logo' title, but IMDB & Wikipedia both spell it out as 'heart' rather than 'love'.

So it means, Cheney still loves waterboarding*

*Waterboarding is a form of torture in which water is poured over a cloth covering the face and breathing passages of an immobilized captive, causing the person to experience the sensation of drowning.

  • 1
    Regarding the movie, if you look up the posters and trailer, it's clear that it was officially called "i ❤ huckabees", so it's in the same category as the original "I❤NY" in terms of pronunciation.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 13:41
  • @IMSoP - thanks, I've clarified that part of my answer. Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 10:54

In many chat apps, you would write ❤️ as :heart:. The message “I❤️U” might be read out loud as either, “I love you,” or “I heart you.”

In this case, the author was choosing to be very informal, in humorous contrast to the serious topic, and to Dick Cheney being from an older generation that stereotypically wouldn’t talk that way.

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