noun Informal.

a pathetic story, play, movie, or the like; an excessively sentimental tale.

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. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for tear-jerker



informal an excessively sentimental film, play, book, etc
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

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.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper