when "to cry" is to shout and when to weep

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New Member
How one can tell when "cry"(verb or noun) stands for screaming and when for emitting tears?

I've got an idea that cry=shout often describes the speech or message of some kind, direct or indirect, whereas cry=weep goes intransitive, "plain and unadorned".
But neither shouting nor weeping do not preclude one's capacity for speaking, it seems.
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    As a speech verb, that is actually introducing speech, 'cry' means more like "exclaim" or "say loudly"; it's not as strong as shouting.

    "Are you serious?" cried Mary, her eyes brightening.
    . . .
    "Phoo! phoo!" cried the Admiral, "what stuff these young fellows talk!"
    — from Jane Austen, Persuasion (she uses it more in this way than modern novelists do)

    'Weep' can also be used as a speech verb:

    'But you said you loved me!' she wept. [= said, while weeping]
    'But you said you loved me!' she cried. [= exclaimed. I don't think it would be understood as "wept"]

    The combination 'cry out' always means "exclaim". The noun 'cry' is the call of a person or animal (I heard a cry in the darkness; the cry of wolves): for weeping you need to use 'crying' (I heard crying in the next room). However, it means weeping in 'have a good cry' (to relieve your feelings). These and context mean it's unlikely there will be confusion between the two meanings.
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