crocodile tear

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From the ancient belief that crocodiles shed tears while consuming their prey.


crocodile tear ‎(plural crocodile tears)

  1. (idiomatic) A tear shed insincerely, in a false display of sorrow or some other emotion.
    • 1877, Charles Reade, The Woman Hater, ch. 2:
      At last he contrived to squeeze out one of his little hysterical tears, and drop it on her hand. Now, the girl was not butter, like some of her sex; far from it: but neither was she wood—indeed, she was not old enough for that—so this crocodile tear won her for the time being.
  2. (idiomatic, in the plural) A display of tears that is forced or false.
    • 1864, Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?, chapter 19:
      And in all her letters since, she had spoken of her aunt as a silly, vain, worldly woman, weeping crocodile tears, for an old husband whose death had released her from the tedium of his company.


See also[edit]