20 Ways to Cry

By Mark Nichol

Opportunities abound for describing lachrymal lamentations. Here are twenty synonyms for cry, plus some related expressions.

1. Bawl: to cry out loudly and without restraint; also, to call out in such a manner
2. Bleat: to complain or whine
3. Blub: see blubber (mostly confined to British English)
4. Blubber: to cry while making sounds of distress or pain, especially through pouted lips (hence the onomatopoeic word)
5. Caterwaul: to cry harshly; also, to noisily complain or protest
6. Groan: a low-pitched cry of grief or pain
7. Howl: to cry out in grief; also, to cry out in laughter or anger
8. Keen: to cry out with a long, loud sound of mourning; also, to complain, usually tiresomely (the adjective keen, meaning “acute, sharp” or used as slang equivalent to cool or neat is unrelated)
9. Lament: to cry out with grief; also, to feel regret or sorrow
10. Mewl: to cry softly or weakly, like a kitten
11. Moan: a low-pitched sound of grief or pain more extended than a groan
12. Pule: see whine
13. Snivel: to cry with a stuffed nose; also, to act or speak as if in an emotional, tearful state
14. Sob: to cry while making sounds of distress or pain, distinguished from blubbering by the noisy intake of breath
15. Squall: to cry out loudly in emotional distress — usually associated with infants or very young children
16. Wail: to cry out in grief at a high pitch
17. Weep: to cry while making sounds of distress or pain, distinguished from blubbering and sobbing by the gentler, quieter nature of weeping
18. Whimper: to cry softly and irregularly; also, to complain or protest as if whining
19. Whine: to cry in distress, or in a high-pitched, complaining manner; also, to complain
20. Yowl: see wail

Idioms and slang synonymous with cry include “break down,” “burst into tears,” “choke up,” “crack up,” “dissolve into tears,” “let it all out,” “put on the weeps,” “ring the blues,” “shed (bitter) tears,” and “turn on the waterworks.”

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1 Response to “20 Ways to Cry”

  • Mileni

    Hi Mark,

    I just want to thank you for this website; it’s been very useful to me. I am a writer, and English is my second language; I especially have trouble describing gestures, facial expressions, and body movements. I found many articles here that relate to that, and have been studying them. Articles such as “20 Ways to Cry” and “35 Synonyms for “Look”” are also extremely helpful; the more familiar one gets with those words (and the distinction between them and similar words), he better one can write. So… THANK YOU! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Mileni

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