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tearjerker

[teer-jur-ker]
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noun Informal.
  1. a pathetic story, play, movie, or the like; an excessively sentimental tale.
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Origin of tearjerker

First recorded in 1930–35; tear1 + jerk1 + -er1
Related formstear·jerk·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for tear-jerker

tear-jerker

noun
  1. informal an excessively sentimental film, play, book, etc
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for tear-jerker

n.

1911, in reference to newspaper stories about tragic situations, on model of soda-jerker and perhaps especially beer-jerker, from tear (n.1) + jerk (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper