The History Behind the Expression “Crocodile Tears” Doesn’t Involve Crying Reptiles

The expression “crocodile tears” has been used commonly throughout history and remains in use today. It serves as a great way of describing someone’s act of displaying superficial sympathy or faking an emotion. But did you ever wonder how this expression even came to be and got ingrained in many cultures?

The origins of “crocodile tears” can be traced back to ancient times. It came from a false belief that crocodiles shed tears while consuming their prey. Back then, it was used to describe people who wish death to others but will publicly feel sorry for them. The first mention of the expression is recorded in a collection of proverbs attributed to Greek philosopher Plutarch of Athens.

In the English language, the expression was popularized by the stories of a 14th-century traveler who represented himself under a fictional name, Sir John Mandeville. In his popular book The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, the author describes many fabricated and fantastical adventures during his proposed travel through Asia, including an encounter with a crocodile.

“These serpents slay men, and they eat them weeping; and when they eat they move the over jaw, and not the nether jaw, and they have no tongue,” it says in the book. 

William Shakespeare later used the expression in many of his works, including Othello, Henry VI, Part 2, and Antony and Cleopatra, which led to its further popularization.

While crocodiles do “cry,” this act isn’t tied to emotions in any way. Their eyes produce a liquid that keeps their eyes clean and lubricates them.

4 Facts About the History of Pictionary You Probably Didn’t Know

Pictionary is a simple and fun board game in which teams of players take turns in order to guess a word based on sketches...

Archeologists Discover Ancient Indoor Pool in Ruins of a Roman Villa in Albania

A team of archeologists recently made a significant discovery while working on a site in the coastal city of Durres, Albania. They found ruins...

5 Quick Facts About Christ the Redeemer

Built in 1931 as a way to celebrate Brazilian faith and tradition, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, now stands...