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I understand that to say ちっちゃなハート doesn't mean "little heart" in the "romantic" context, it actually means someone who is not brave or courageous. Would like a native speaker to shed some further light/context (or let me know if I am totally wrong). Also consider ちっちゃな心 context and meaning?

Thank you!

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What you are saying is neither totally correct nor totally incorrect. It is at least partially correct.

The problem here is your use of the term "romantic context" because that is not a very specific context. All kinds of topics could be covered in a romantic context, could it not? Romance could happen to all types of people, too.

「ちっちゃなハート」 can certainly mean "little heart". A young girl once said to me, 「アタシのちっちゃなハート、全部{ぜんぶ}〇〇[君]{くん}にあげる!♡」. 〇〇, of course, is my family name.

「ちっちゃなハート」 can also mean "cowardly heart".

Same goes for 「ちっちゃな心」. What it means would entirely depend on the context. As a general tendency, however, it is often used to refer to a "little heart" and a "narrow mind". It would rarely, if ever, be used to mean a "cowardly heart".

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    「ちっちゃなハート」 can also mean "chicken heart" regardless of the context except at the yakitori place where you want to order the real chicken hearts.  That word is 「ハツ」, BTW. -- I don't get it, "chicken heart" has only one meaning and that is real chicken hearts. – Leo Feb 22 '17 at 7:03
  • @Leo I guess he meant "chicken" as in "not brave or courageous". Like someone has the heart of a chicken. Though the heart part does make it a bit weird and confusing. – Christer Feb 22 '17 at 10:18
  • It's unidiomatic in English to say 'chicken heart' to refer to a cowardly heart. It would only refer to a literal chicken heart. – Aeon Akechi Feb 22 '17 at 20:15
  • Right, my point was that if he is referring to "cowardly" then it is unidiomatic to say "chicken heart". I was actually wondering if it was a waseieigo term since I've never heard/seen it before. – Leo Feb 23 '17 at 2:42
  • I think the real question here is: what is the rest of your story?! – virgil9306 Feb 23 '17 at 6:54
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The usage and context of ハート vs 心 tends to be different.

  • ハート → more figurative, romantic nuance, emotion, the "heart shape"
  • 心 → mind, feeling, strength etc. (you wouldn't refer to the "heart shape" with this word; it'd be unnatural)
  • 心臓 → literally the muscle in your body we know as the "heart"

It might make sense to interchange ハート with 心 in some instances, but not the other way around.

ハート is less "serious," if you will, and more innocent in its figurativeness. 心 loses that nuance. Perhaps this is the biggest differentiator in your presented situation.

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