Sep 28, 2018

Wordology, Crocodile Tears

This expression is not used much these days, but it is interesting to know the history. It means tears or expressions of sorrow that are insincere.

It originated from a 14th century, a book called “The Travels of Sir John Mandeville” where the author recounts a knight’s adventures through Asia. In the book it says that crocodiles shed tears while eating a man they captured. Even though it is factually inaccurate, the phrase ‘crocodile tears’ found its way into Shakespeare’s work and became an idiom in the 16th century, symbolizing insincere grief.

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