sob story

an excessively sentimental human-interest story.
an alibi or excuse, especially one designed to arouse sympathy: Instead of a raise, the boss gave us another sob story about her expenses.

1915–20 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
sob story
a tale of personal distress intended to arouse sympathy, esp one offered as an excuse or apology

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

sob story

A tale of personal hardship, true or invented, that is intended to arouse pity in the listener. For example, She always came up with some sob story to excuse her absences, but no one believed her. [Early 1900s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Pitch them a sob story and they often swallow it whole.
MS submitting a corporate sob story as an argument, this comes off smelling bit off.
The fake one called the next morning with another sob story about he had missed his plane and needed more money.
It starts when the inmate gets an individual to accept a collect call and then gives a sob story.
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