weep / cry

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Thomas1

Senior Member
polszczyzna warszawska
Could anyone please explain me the difference between these two verbs/nouns, please?
In which registers would you use thefirst one and not the other one and all the way around?
Are there any different connotations conveyed by each of them?

Thanks in advance,

Thomas
 
  • judkinsc

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    "weep" is more literary than "cry", it's also more dramatic.

    "cry" is used, nearly always, in spoken English.

    If, however, someone wishes to be dramatic, you can hear "weep"...rarely.

    e.g.:

    "Stop your weeping and wailing already..." (this is also fairly literary...and used for the alliteration of double 'w's.)
     

    bizcocho

    Member
    english - america
    Hi, Thomas. These words mean the same however, the first weep is more formal than the latter cry. Weep is not used in everyday language. One would here cry a lot more often, even daily, some might say. Here are two examples. I hope they help. I would weep if someone close to me died. (Mourn;grieve;sob) I would cry if I broke a bone in my body. (Expressing physical pain or mild emotions such as happiness even) Ex. I will cry at my wedding. A baby will cry when he/she is hungry. I will weep when my mother dies. The use of cry is almost always correct, understood, and excepted.The use of weep tends to be unnatural sounding in most conversations.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    weep for me indicates emotional stress, and it goes on for an extended period.

    I would not find it odd for someone to say that "his sister wept at his funeral".
    I'd find it more natural than "... cried at his funeral."
     

    katiebridle

    Member
    English, UK
    Brioche said:
    weep for me indicates emotional stress, and it goes on for an extended period.

    I would not find it odd for someone to say that "his sister wept at his funeral".
    I'd find it more natural than "... cried at his funeral."
    I would add that weep is emotive. ie it is used in writing when the author wishes to evoke a certain emotion in the reader, in this case I would imagine sympathy, or the impression that the subject of the description is vulnerable and sensitive.

    Thomas1 said:
    Could anyone please explain me the difference between these two verbs/nouns, please?
    You should also bear in mind that weep and cry are verbs not nouns. The correct nouns are weeping and crying (also adjectives).
    I heard a cry = I heard a shout NOT I heard crying

    You can say "To have a cry/weep" but that is more colloquial as in, "After a hard day I was very emotional and when I got home I had a good cry/weep", but that implies certains things about the character of the speaker, so its not a good idea to use it in a formal register context. The emotive overtones of weep still apply to this usage I believe.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Everybody seems to agree, and so do I. Naturally I have some additional points.

    Crying involves vocalization more than weeping does-- in fact crying without sound should really be called weeping. Weeping is associated with tears-- note that involuntary seepage of tears from someone who is withholding emotion is called weeping. So is the production of tears prompted by something other than emotion-- a physiological problem, irritants in the air, etc. Fluid other than tears can "weep" from things other than eyes, like beads of sap weeping from fresh-cut wood, or from a physical wound in a tree.

    Paintings and statues sometimes weep miraculously, either with tears or blood-- "cry" is not used in this sense.

    Finally, a good actor can "weep real tears" on demand-- another indication that weeping is associated with the watery aspects of crying.

    So I guess I'm not sure that weeping is more "emotive" than crying, since the same word applies to physical tears in so many senses other than the highly emotional. On the other hand, the word is closely associated with emotions of grief and regret-- emotional even when subdued.

    The word that focuses more on the sound of crying is "sobbing." Weeping is often more subtle than the general term "crying," and sobbing is pretty much always less so.
    .
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Many thanks for your replies the matter I asked about is clear now, though some more questions emerged :)
    foxfirebrand said:
    Crying involves vocalization more than weeping does-- in fact crying without sound should really be called weeping. Weeping is associated with tears-- note that involuntary seepage of tears from someone who is withholding emotion is called weeping. So is the production of tears prompted by something other than emotion-- a physiological problem, irritants in the air, etc.
    This is quite interesting since I though it is only used in the meaning described above. Let's say we have spring now and there's much pollen in the air, many people suffer in this time because of inflamation of the eye conjunctiva, would you say that someone who has conjunctivitis is weeping? Is watering a propper verb in such context?

    Fluid other than tears can "weep" from things other than eyes, like beads of sap weeping from fresh-cut wood, or from a physical wound in a tree.
    And what about a human wound, let's say you've cut your finger and it is bleeding would it be feasible to say it's weeping?

    So I guess I'm not sure that weeping is more "emotive" than crying, since the same word applies to physical tears in so many senses other than the highly emotional. On the other hand, the word is closely associated with emotions of grief and regret-- emotional even when subdued.
    Therefore it is associated with all kinds of negative emotions and it is not used while referring to positive ones?

    Foxfirebrand thanks a lot for your thorough and really usefull explanation. :)
     

    judkinsc

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Thomas1 said:
    Many thanks for your replies the matter I asked about is clear now, though some more questions emerged :)

    This is quite interesting since I though it is only used in the meaning described above. Let's say we have spring now and there's much pollen in the air, many people suffer in this time because of inflamation of the eye conjunctiva, would you say that someone who has conjunctivitis is weeping? Is watering a propper verb in such context?
    Yes, we would say "their eyes are watering."

    And what about a human wound, let's say you've cut your finger and it is bleeding would it be feasible to say it's weeping?
    "The blood "seeps" from his finger", usually. "Weeping" is sometimes used metaphorically...such as in the sap weeping from the trees above. It personifies the trees/wound and makes them seem to have emotion.



    Therefore it is associated with all kinds of negative emotions and it is not used while referring to positive ones?
    It refers only to grief and similar words.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    People with allergies wouldn't be said to weep, but you might say their eyes did. As judkinsc suggests, water is the word most commonly used.

    I wouldn't say other uses of weep quite rise to the level of the metaphoric. Oozing and seeping and flowing in general is just a secondary meaning of the word-- down the list I mean, not literally meaning #2.

    We have weeping willows for example, trees whose leaf structure involves long and flowing shoots instead of stems and bracts.
    .
     

    judkinsc

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    foxfirebrand said:
    We have weeping willows for example, trees whose leaf structure involves long and flowing shoots instead of stems and bracts.
    .
    I quite agree with you on the definition.

    By way of connotation though, how many songs with a weeping willow in them are happy?

    "A poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,
    Sing all the green willow,
    Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,
    Sing willow, willow, willow."

    etc

    http://math.boisestate.edu/gas/other_sullivan/songs/willow/willow.html
    (From a version where Desdemona sings in "Othello", Shakespeare)

    Then there's the "mean old willow" or such in J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings series, the part with Tom Bombadill.

    There are some other songs about a grief-stricken lover standing beneath a weeping willow, too.

    I think of the willow as a very sad tree. :(
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    A wound that is bleeding wouldn't be described as weeping - it's bleeding:)

    But a wound that has not healed and is oozing fluid would be called a weeping wound. HERE is a random example of this usage:
    Occasionally, coral scrapes and cuts will have trouble healing and break out in a chronic dermatitis or a weeping wound.
    We also have weepy films:
    I expected to see a really good weepy film about the very sad story of Iris growing up and eventually becoming ill.
    I took a look at the OED. There are many definitions for cry (22) and weep (9).

    For weep, the #1 definition includes:
    - natural, audible, and visible expression of painful (and sometimes of intensely pleasurable) emotion;
    ... and this interesting comment:
    In mod.English somewhat rare in non-literary use, being superseded by cry; recently a sense of the inappropriateness of that verb as applied to silent manifestations seems to have in some degree revived the colloquial currency of weep in the sense ‘to shed tears’.
    For cry, way down at #9 is this definition:
    To utter inarticulate exclamations, esp. of grief, lamentation, or suffering, such as are usually accompanied with tears; to weep and wail.
    ... and at #10
    This passes in later use into: To weep, shed tears; used even where no sound is uttered.
    Now, I know everyone is wondering when this "... later use ..." might have started. The first example of cry #9 is from 1297, the first use of cry #10 is c1532.
    I really love the OED:)
     

    Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    <Added to this thread. Nat, moderator.>

    Hi,

    Would you please explain the difference between weep and cry?

    When I heard the news of my Uncle's death, I started to weep.
    When I heard the news of my Uncle's death, I started to cry.


    Thanks:)
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I agree with Barque - there isn't a lot of difference. I would also say that cry is a more general word, and weep is a more specific way of crying. I expect more profuse tears with weeping.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The everyday word, as far as I'm concerned, is "cry".

    The baby is crying.
    Onions make me cry.
    Real men don't cry.

    "Weep" is more literary. I don't think I've ever used the word, since it sounds rather old-fashioned. Heroines in old novels used to weep a lot.

    There are a few set phrases, such as Jesus wept and Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone.
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Luke 13:28:

    "There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out."
     

    Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    Thanks, @velisarius, @natkretep, @You little ripper!
    I think in a more generalized sense, "weeping" just means shedding of tears - it is not necessarily associated with emotions; while "crying" is associated with emotions.
    Also, weeping is without sound; while crying is with sound.

    Do you agree or do you have some other thoughts related to both weeping and crying? If you do have, please enlighten me.
     

    eisnard

    New Member
    French
    In the song "The weeping song" from Nick Cave & the bad seeds (poetry),
    all women and men are weeping, God may be weeping too.
    Children first cry when they are young (more the physical act), later they will be weeping (more dramatic, about the human condition).

    https://www.nickcave.com/lyrics/nick-cave-bad-seeds/good-son/weeping-song/

    THE WEEPING SONG
    Go son, go down to the water
    And see the women weeping there
    Then go up into the mountains
    The men, they are weeping too

    <-----Excess quote removed by moderator (Florentia52)----->
     
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    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    Do you mean when tears are in abundance, we should use weep. When they aren't, we should use cry.
    Right?
    I agree that if one wants to emphasize despair and a flow of tears, one would say 'weep.' But 'cry' is a general term that can include weeping or less teary vocalization.
    A toddler weeps loudly if someone grabs his favorite toy, whereas he might simply cry if he wants to get out of his crib.
    Even though tears run down my cheeks profusely when I'm outside on a cold windy day, I'd say "My eyes are tearing up because of the wind." If I said "I'm weeping because of the wind" my hearer might think I was sad because of the wind.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I'm in agreement with Roxxannne. 'Cry' is the general term that can encompass a range of flow of tears. 'Weep' suggests copiousness and a continual flow of tears.
     

    Roymalika

    Senior Member
    Punjabi
    Cry' is the general term that can encompass a range of flow of tears. 'Weep' suggests copiousness and a continual flow of tears
    Can you please let me know an example of the situation in which cry is used and an example of the situation in which weep is used (each example should illustrate your underlined)?
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    She wept incontrollably when she heard the news. :tick:
    She cried incontrollably when she heard the news. :tick:

    She cried quietly and was a little teary eyed. :tick:
    She wept quietly and was a little teary eyed. :cross:
     

    Roymalika

    Senior Member
    Punjabi
    She cried quietly and was a little teary eyed. :tick:
    She wept quietly and was a little teary eyed. :cross:
    I'm sorry natkretep, I don't understand the point here. Can you please elaborate why the first one is correct and the second one isn't?
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It might be more profitable if you tell us how you want to use the words or why you are asking. Provide a couple of sentences, please, bearing previous explanations in mind.
     

    Roymalika

    Senior Member
    Punjabi
    She cried quietly and was a little teary eyed. :tick:
    She wept quietly and was a little teary eyed. :cross:
    I think the first one is correct because cry shows an extent/limit of flow of tears, i.e. her tears flowed for some time, and then stopped. The second one is incorrect because weep shows a continual flow of tears. The indicator is "teary eyes". The teary eyes show that the person has flown tears for some time and then stopped - ie, he/she is not flowing tears now. That's why weep can't work in the second sentence.

    Shortly we can say that if tears have stopped flowing, we should use cry. If they haven't (i.e. they are continuously flowing), we should use weep.


    I hope natkretep can correct me if I'm wrong.
     

    Roymalika

    Senior Member
    Punjabi
    To apply my understanding (post 31):

    I wept all day yesterday because my boyfriend had cheated on me. :tick:
    I cried all day yesterday because my boyfriend had cheated on me. :cross:


    The second sentence is wrong because cry shows an extent/limit to the flow of tears. As the speaker's tears flowed all day long continuously without stopping, so only weep work.
     

    Roymalika

    Senior Member
    Punjabi
    No. "Wept" is old-fashiooned. We would use "I cried all day".
    I respect your opinion, velisarius, but did you look at post 17 and 24 of natkretep's? He is implying that weep is used when tears are in abundance and in continuous flow.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Yes, I did see nat's post but I don't agree with your interpretation of that post. :)

    There may be something to it, but the obvious difference for me is that nobody nowadays regularly uses the verb "weep" in everyday speech. It usually sounds old-fashioned or literary, or is being used in a set phrase.

    In Charles Dickens' day, women and men were weeping all the time. Nowadays females cry a lot, and men try not to.

    Edit: to illustrate what I mean,

    If I saw a journalist describing a mother "weeping over the body of her child", I would say they were using the verb for added drama and emotional impact, as journalists often do. They like to manipulate our reactions to a story. The women might be weeping quielty and not even very copiously. A "weeping" mother sounds more tragic than a crying one.
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Do you know anyone who uses the verb in real life, You little ripper? I don't. I mean real reople, not people in novels or in the media.

    This seems to me a quite false distinction:
    To apply my understanding (post 31):

    I wept all day yesterday because my boyfriend had cheated on me. :tick:
    I cried all day yesterday because my boyfriend had cheated on me. :cross:


    The second sentence is wrong because cry shows an extent/limit to the flow of tears. As the speaker's tears flowed all day long continuously without stopping, so only weep work.
    If we are trying to distinguish between weep and cry (which mean the same), the only valid distinction for me is that "weep" isn't commonly used nowadays.
     
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    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Do you know anyone who uses the verb in real life, You little ripper? I don't. I mean real reople, not people in novels or in the media.
    Yes, I do know people who use the word. I have occasionally used the expression “weeping uncontrollably” instead of “crying uncontrollably”. You don’t live in an English-speaking country, velisarius, so maybe you’re not in a situation where you’re likely to hear it.
     
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    Roymalika

    Senior Member
    Punjabi
    Yes, I do know people who use the word. I have occasionally used the expression “weeping uncontrollably” instead of “crying uncontrollably”. You don’t live in an English-speaking country, so maybe you’re not in a situation where you’re likely to hear it.
    YLR, can you please let me know when you would use cry and when you would use weep?
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    I'm not YLR, but I would use 'weep' if a person is distraught and lots of tears are coming out of their eyes and if, afterwards, they have to blow their nose. Also, it's possible to do all that quietly.
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    YLR, can you please let me know when you would use cry and when you would use weep?
    I would use ‘cry’ most of the time except for the expression “weeping uncontrollably” as I’ve already mentioned, but only when referring to women or children. For some reason “weeping uncontrollably” doesn’t work for me in relation to men.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    I would use it for a man who is doing what I described in #40. I have known men to weep in anguish or sorrow, and I've seen news photos of men who look as though they're weeping -- mourning a relative killed in a bombing, say.
     

    Roymalika

    Senior Member
    Punjabi
    I'm not YLR, but I would use 'weep' if a person is distraught and lots of tears are coming out of their eyes and if, afterwards, they have to blow their nose. Also, it's possible to do all that quietly.
    Thank you Roxxxannne. Can you please explain why in post 26 the "cry" sentence is correct while the "weep" sentence is incorrect? (I'm talking about the second pair of sentences)
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    Thank you Roxxxannne. Can you please explain why in post 26 the "cry" sentence is correct while the "weep" sentence is incorrect? (I'm talking about the second pair of sentences)
    In terms of meaning, I would not accept 'She wept quietly and was a little teary eyed' because if one is weeping one is not just 'a little teary eyed.' Teary-eyed to me means that your eyes are glistening because there are more tears in them than usual, but there are no tears running down your face and your nose is not dripping, which is what happens when you weep.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Yes, I do know people who use the word. I have occasionally used the expression “weeping uncontrollably” instead of “crying uncontrollably”. You don’t live in an English-speaking country, velisarius, so maybe you’re not in a situation where you’re likely to hear it.

    You have managed to avoid answering my point about Roymalika's post # 32 :) . Do you disagree that we make no such distinction in English? Can we not cry uncontrollably all day because our boyfriend has dumped us?
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    You have managed to avoid answering my point about Roymalika's post # 32 :) . Do you disagree that we make no such distinction in English? Can we not cry uncontrollably all day because our boyfriend has dumped us?
    I didn’t avoid that part of your post, velisarius; I thought that only the first part of it was directed at me and responded to that. Of course we can do both! :)
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    For some reason “weeping uncontrollably” doesn’t work for me in relation to men.
    I think the reason is that "weep" often sounds more dramatic and emotionally charged (though we can also "weep" when we are peeling onions) and that goes against the stereotype of the male who is more in control of his feelings than the average female.

    Grown men wept... - another set phrase that is sometimes used, though "Grown men cried..." is freely used too.
    https://edinburghfestival.org/2012/08/22/grown-men-wept/
     
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