A figurative towel for wiping the tears of a self-pitying individual. For example, So you didn't make the first team? Get out the crying towel. This expression is always used sarcastically. [Slang; 1920s]
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.