Crocodile tears (insincere tears)

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Radioh, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. Radioh

    Radioh Senior Member

    In Vietnam, we have a common expression "khóc nước mắt cá sấu", which means "to weep crocodile tears"(to weep insincerely). And I've just known that in English, the phrase crocodile tears is also used to describe insincere tears. Therefore, the expression in English is the same as in Vietnamese. Very interesting! :D
    Does your language have this expression ? Does your language also use crocodile tears in this expression ?
  2. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    We have it in Greek too:

    «Κροκοδίλεια/κροκοδίλια (both spellings are equally common) δάκρυα» [kroko'ðili.a 'ðakri.a] --> crocodilian tears. The phrase is in use since 1892.

    «Κροκόδειλος» and «κροκόδιλος» [kroko'ðilos] (masc.) < Classical masc. noun «κροκόδῑλος» krŏkódīlŏs and «κροκόδειλος» krŏkódeilŏs --> lizard, crocodile with unclear etymology (possibly from «κρόκη» krókē (fem.) --> gravel + «δρῖλος/δρεῖλος» drîlŏs and dreîlŏs (masc.) --> worm, verpus; «κροκόδρειλος» > «κροκόδειλος» after dissimilation).

    «Δάκρυ/δάκρυα» ['ðakri] (neut. nom. sing.), ['ðakri.a] (neut. nom. pl.) --> tear/tears < Classical neut. noun «δάκρῠ» dákrŭ --> tear, drop (PIE *drḱ-/*h2ḱru-, tear cf Skt. अश्रु (azru), tear; Lat. lacruma (and lacrima), tear; Proto-Germanic *tahrą > Ger. Träne/Zähre, Eng. tear, Dt. teer, Is. tár, Nor./Swe./D. tår).
  3. bibax Senior Member


    roniti krokodýlí slzy = to shed crocodile tears;

    The ancient people believed that the crocodiles (aka cocodrills) were shedding insincere tears while eating prey.
  4. Radioh

    Radioh Senior Member

    Very interesting! I didn't even know why we say "crocodile tears" :)
  5. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    Russian: лить крокодиловы слёзы /lit' krokodilovy sliozy/ - lit. to pour crocodile's tears

    (I think it has to do with saliva glands on crocs being under their eyes so the saliva looks like tears when they eat - or something like that... )
  6. ahmedcowon Senior Member

    It's also used in Arabic with the same meaning:

    دموع التماسيح /domou3 at-tamaasiih/ - crocodiles' tears
  7. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    Hebrew: דמעות תנין /dma'ót tanín/ "Aligator's tears"
  8. arielipi Senior Member

    A worthy mention is קוזק נגזל kozaq nigzal - a person who cries when something bad happens to him (while actually he is a bad person)
  9. ancalimon Senior Member

  10. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    We do say "lacrime di coccodrillo" also in Italian.
  11. Radioh

    Radioh Senior Member

    He, interesting :) It seems that our ancestors shared the same thought on this expression.
  12. ancalimon Senior Member

    I guess we all got this from people living around crocodiles.
  13. arielipi Senior Member

  14. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    Just wanted to correct myself. Apparently תנין is Crocodile and not Alligator (which is not native to the region)
  15. Radioh

    Radioh Senior Member

    Good point, anca.
    May I be a bit off-topic ? I've always thought that an alligator is a crocodile that lives in America. Am I right ?
  16. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    Chinese: 貓哭老鼠 (trad.) 猫哭老鼠 (simp.) māo kū lǎoshǔ 'The cat cries for the mouse'
  17. Radioh

    Radioh Senior Member

    Ah, we also have this idiom, i.e. "mèo khóc chuột".
  18. ilocas2 Senior Member


    lágrimas de cocodrilo
  19. Nawaq Senior Member

    français (France)
    Crocodile tears here too, larmes de crocodile.
  20. Dymn Senior Member

    Catalan, Catalonia
    Catalan: llàgrimes de cocodril
  21. Sardokan1.0

    Sardokan1.0 Senior Member

    Sardu / Italianu
    Same expression here too

    Italian : lacrime di coccodrillo

    Sardinian : lagrimas de coccodrillu
  22. 810senior

    810senior Senior Member

    As long as I know, we Japanese don't have a figurative one with an animal metaphor.

    そら涙sora-namida : lit. false tear
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