Let me pull out my violin. (= quit whining as it's not that bad?)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by csicska, Jan 14, 2018.

  1. csicska Senior Member

    Hello. Could you please tell me if the phrase "to pull out your violin" is used to tell someone that their situation is not as bad as they are making it to be and you could tell them an actual sad story that would elicit sympathy? In other words, is it something like "quit whining" or "cry me a river"? Thank you.

    It's cute seeing Hawks fans complain. Yeah your GM isn't the best and makes some bad decisions but you've won 3 cups in recent memory and had the highest scoring player in the league last year. Oh yeah, you also got the Calder winner for diddly squat. Let me pull out my violin.
    Around the League 2016-2017 PT 2 Everyone is scoring boogaloo
  2. VicNicSor

    VicNicSor Senior Member

    Yes, it implies something like "quit whining", but the literal meaning is not "you could tell them an actual sad story that would elicit sympathy". It's rather more like "your story is so sad that I want to pull out my violin and accompany you on it, so that your story would sound even more sad:)
  3. dojibear

    dojibear Senior Member

    Fresno CA
    English - Northeast US
    I agree with #2, and will add some more thoughts about how the expression is used in AE.

    The expression usually means "you are asking for sympathy, but I give you no sympathy". As V says, the "violin" part refers to having a violin playing in the background, as it often does in unhappy scenes in dramas.

    Sometimes that means you are trying to make something seem terrible, when it isn't. You are trying to turn something minor into a tragic scene, a melodrama. Other times it just means "I have no sympathy for you" -- a bad gangster might say this in a story, to mock a nice person who is complaining about something terrible.

    It is always a reply to a complaint, a whine, or a statement about being upset or scared.
  4. csicska Senior Member

    Aha. So the picture is more about accompanying than telling your own story.

    If I understood it correctly, it either shows no sympathy by a good person because the situation is not that bad or no sympathy by a bad person because it is not in his/her nature to show it even if it would be justified.
  5. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    :thumbsup: This word fits well. The violin will provide the melody to accompany the drama.
  6. csicska Senior Member

    Thank you.
  7. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Traditionally, pianists who accompanied silent films would play "Hearts and flowers" during scenes of pathos. YouTube will play you several versions of this, dating back to 1908.

Share This Page