We conducted two studies to explore the potential meanings associated with the “heartfelt” gesture, which involves placing one’s hand with a flat palm in the center of the chest. In Study 1, we approached 176 participants in various social settings and asked them to recall an example of the gesture and the emotion they associated with its use. Although shock and surprise emerged as important themes, participants reported social relational examples associated with intensely-felt “heartfelt” emotions and empathy. Women were more likely to recall an example of the gesture’s use than were men. In Study 2, we replicated the effects of Study 1 using a larger online sample (N = 252), finding that women were more likely than men to use the gesture, and revealing a significant correlation between gesture use and self-reported empathy. The studies highlight the emotional significance of the gesture and challenge the prevailing view that the gesture primarily communicates sincerity. Implications for the possibility that the gesture serves as a nonverbal signal of heartfelt connection to others and/or an emblem of empathy are discussed.