Crocodile Tears

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Crocodile Tears : Phrases


Pretending to cry in an attempt to manipulate or exploit, phony tears; fake tears; false grief.


He gave his testimony through crocodile tears.


In ancient Rome (about AD 300), people used this expression. About 1,000 years later, people enjoyed listening to a popular folktale about how crocodiles make loud weeping sounds to trap innocent prey who come to see what all the wailing is about. The crocodile supposedly weeps fake tears even as they eat their victims.

Alternative: It was often thought that crocodiles shed tears that slid down into their mouths, moistening their food and making it easier for them to swallow. Hence the tears appear to be an expression of emotion but are in fact a means to make it easier to swallow.

Alternative: When at rest basking in the sun crocodiles have their mouths open, this position of the jaw puts pressure on the tear glands and causes them to shed tears. Hence crocodile tears are not real since they are a physical response, not an emotional one.

British writers such as Shakespeare, Bacon, and Tennyson used crocodile tears to suggest insincere sympathy and pretended sorrow.

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