crocodile tears, crying/to cry

cry crocodile tears

To display false, insincere, or hypocritical sadness or remorse. Derived from an ancient notion that a crocodile will weep to lure in its victims, or that it weeps as it eats them. Jessica cried crocodile tears over the expulsion of her rival, Jacob.
See also: crocodile, cry, tear
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

crocodile tears, crying/to cry

Pretended grief; hypocritical sorrow. The term comes from an ancient myth that a crocodile weeps while eating its prey. It was quoted by the English traveler Sir John Mandeville in 1400 but was already current far earlier, in Roman times. Indeed, the writer Spartianus, in his Lives of the Emperors (ca. a.d. 300), said that the Emperor Caracalla shed crocodile tears at the death of some of his enemies. The term was picked up by Shakespeare, Sir Francis Bacon, and numerous other writers, and was a cliché by the time Tennyson wrote, “Crocodiles wept tears for thee” (“A Dirge,” 1830).
See also: crocodile, cry, crying
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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