crocodile tears

noun
1.
(used with a plural verb) a hypocritical show of sorrow; insincere tears.
2.
(used with a singular verb) Pathology. spontaneous tearing initiated by tasting or chewing food, occurring as a result of facial paralysis.

Origin:
1555–65; so called from the the ancient belief that crocodiles shed tears while eating their victims

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To crocodile tears
Collins
World English Dictionary
crocodile tears
 
pl n
an insincere show of grief; false tears
 
[from the belief that crocodiles wept over their prey to lure further victims]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

crocodile tears definition


An insincere show of sympathy or sadness; crocodiles were once thought to “weep” large tears before they ate their victims: “Don't shed any crocodile tears for Fisher; I know you were responsible for his firing.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

crocodile tears

An insincere display of grief, as in When the play's star broke her leg, her understudy wept crocodile tears. This term comes from the mistaken notion that crocodiles weep while eating their prey, one held in ancient Roman times. The actual term was picked up by Shakespeare and many other writers after him, and remains current. [Late 1500s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
They play us for suckers and weep crocodile tears at our deaths as their stock values rise.
To these crocodile tears they will add sobs, fiery sighs, and sorrowful countenance.
Most bosses think that they were not consulted properly, if at all crocodile tears.
To ask for my forgiveness and shed his crocodile tears.
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature