crocodile tears

plural noun

: false or affected tears
also : hypocritical sorrow

Examples of crocodile tears in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The East Coast socialites Capote fawns over are lacquered gorgons (for whom the show occasionally sheds crocodile tears, as in the case of Paley’s cancer diagnosis); the Hollywood crowd that takes him in is tasteless lightweights. Mike Hale, New York Times, 31 Jan. 2024 But pardon us for not shedding any crocodile tears, and shame on those few officials who have used scare tactics to exaggerate the law’s impact. Sun Sentinel Editorial Board, Sun Sentinel, 3 Jan. 2024 When Rudolf learns he’s being transferred to a new post in Oranienburg, Germany, potentially upending their idyllic existence, Hedwig screams and rants and sheds crocodile tears. Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, 14 Dec. 2023 Kristol would not brook being lectured to by thinkers feigning a concern for conservatism and shedding crocodile tears over its fall from a dignified version limited to quoting maxims from Edmund Burke. The Intersection, Discover Magazine, 18 June 2011 Nobody has used crocodile tears in television more than the matriarch of the Byrde crime family. Mike Postalakis, SPIN, 9 June 2022 The Merriam-Webster dictionary also seemed to weigh in, offering a definition of crocodile tears. Anna Kaplan, Forbes, 11 Nov. 2021 Being compassionate doesn’t mean shedding crocodile tears, treating the customer like a hurt child or being dishonest with them. James Legg, Forbes, 10 Sep. 2021 Some accused him this week of weeping crocodile tears, given that his money-grubbing fuelled the club’s crisis. Simon Kuper, Time, 11 Aug. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'crocodile tears.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1563, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of crocodile tears was in 1563

Dictionary Entries Near crocodile tears

Cite this Entry

“Crocodile tears.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

crocodile tears

plural noun
: pretended tears or sorrow
Word Origin
An ancient fable tells of a crocodile that sheds tears while eating its prey. Of course, a crocodile is not really sorry for killing and eating another animal because that's how it survives. So when someone is said to shed crocodile tears, it refers to a show of pretended sorrow usually by someone who has done something cruel.
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