Cry Me a River

Meaning of Idiom ‘Cry Me a River’

Cry me a river is a sarcastic response to someone who is expressing sadness or complaining and for whom you have no sympathy.


Although cry me a river can be used in response to actual crying, tears are not necessary for the idiom to be used. It is usually used as a simple exclamatory phrase, “Cry me a river!”

Examples Of Use

“I’m only going to be able to take one week for my vacation this year. I’m so bummed!” said Ted. “Oh, cry me a river. I don’t get any paid vacation at all!”

“Please forgive me,” said Gwynn. “I didn’t mean to cheat on you. It just happened. I really miss you.” “Cry me a river,” replied Jake.

“Oh I miss Lindsey, I can’t believe they fired her,” said Stephanie. “Oh cry me a river. You didn’t waste any time insisting that you should have her old position.”

“Those TV commercials with the sad shelter puppies make me so upset!” “Cry me a river. I recall you paid a thousand dollars for a designer dog.”


Used since at least the latter half of the 1900s, this idiom may have come from a popular song of the 1950s, Cry Me a River, written by Arthur Hamilton and recorded in 1955 by Julie London. It reached number nine on the charts. The song was originally intended to be sung by Ella Fitzgerald in the 1955 film Pete Kelly’s Blues but was dropped from the film. Since Hamilton and London were longtime friends, he gave her a chance to record the song, to great success.

Although it is not certain, Hamilton may have coined the idiom when he wrote the song. He claimed that he had never heard the phrase before penning the lyrics. It is possible he was repeating an existing idiom and simply did not recall hearing it before, but as far as is known, the song is the source of today’s expression.

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