crocodile tears

Hey all.

Iddy’s back after a break, starting with this one for Olivia and her Middle School class who are studying animal based idioms… what better place to start than Crocodile Tears?

Definition: A fake or insincere demonstration of sorrow

Example: Belinda shed crocodile tears at Bernie’s funeral. After all, she’d been the one who had shot him.


Can crocodiles cry?

The idiom comes from an ancient belief that crocodiles cried when devouring their prey. A very strange concept; remorseful reptiles! The phrase reached the English language at the beginning of the 15th century, but in the form of crocodiles ‘weeping’. It was another hundred years before our current phrasing began to appear.

So back to our question. Do they cry? Apparently they do, but not from emotion. Certainly not from remorse. Iddy was surprised that crocodiles have tear ducts at all. Seems a bit redundant for a creature that lives in the water. But it is for that very reason that they do have tears. When they do venture from those waters, their eyes tend to dry out, and so the need for tears.

Having established that they do indeed shed tears, a neurologist decided to go one step further in 2006. He observed caimans while they fed at a refuge in Florida. Closely related to their larger counterparts, several of them did ‘cry’ while feeding, though the actual reason is still debated. However, not a single scientist came forward and claimed it was remorse.

There is a rare medical condition, Bogorad’s syndrome, which causes people to shed tears while they eat. Unsurprisingly, it is sometimes referred to as ‘Crocodile Tears Syndrome’.

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