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crocodile tears

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

First recorded in 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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use crocodile tears in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for crocodile tears

crocodile tears

pl n
an insincere show of grief; false tears

Word Origin for crocodile tears

from the belief that crocodiles wept over their prey to lure further victims
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

Cultural definitions for crocodile tears

crocodile tears

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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with crocodile tears

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® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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