Bawl My Eyes Out: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
August 13, 2023

The phrase "bawl my eyes out" serves as a vibrant depiction of intense weeping. When someone declares, "I'm going to bawl my eyes out," it doesn't imply that their eyes will literally fall out due to excessive crying. Rather, they are conveying a deep sense of emotion, sadness, or frustration to the extent that they could shed copious tears. This figure of speech vividly illustrates an individual being consumed by overwhelming emotions.

In short:

  • The idiom refers to crying very hard or intensely.
  • It expresses a strong emotional reaction, whether it's due to sadness, joy, or frustration.

What Does "Bawl My Eyes Out" Mean?

The phrase “bawl my eyes out” paints a picture of someone crying uncontrollably. If you've ever said or heard someone say, "I'm going to bawl my eyes out," it's clear that strong emotions are at play.

Let's dig into its core meanings and usage:

  • "Bawl my eyes out" means to cry very hard, often loudly and unrestrainedly.
  • People use this phrase when they want to emphasize how deeply they feel about something, such as a tragic movie ending or a personal loss.
  • Despite its dramatic imagery, it's a common expression and not meant to be taken literally. Your eyes won't actually fall out from crying!
  • It's often used to describe a response to something incredibly emotional, like a heartbreaking story or a joyous event that brings tears of happiness.
  • You might hear it in a sentence like, "After being ignored and left on read multiple times, I couldn't help but bawl my eyes out."
  • Similar expressions include "cry a river," "weep uncontrollably," and "sob my heart out."

Where Does "Bawl My Eyes Out" Come From?

The term "bawl" dates back to the Middle Ages, when it meant to shout or cry out loudly. Combining it with "my eyes out" adds emphasis to the intensity of the crying. The whole phrase "bawl my eyes out" is mostly a product of the 20th century. It’s used to convey a deeply emotional response where mere words like "crying" or "weeping" might not seem strong enough.

Historical Example

"I mean I could bawl my eyes out and curse that silly jackass from here to kingdom come and none of it would ever wipe away the fact of what happened and so, that being the case, you might just as well laugh it off and then put it out ..."

- Italian Americana, Volumes 1-3, 1974

10 Examples of "Bawl My Eyes Out" in Sentences

To help you understand when to use this idiom, let's see some examples from various situations:

  • For the love of Pete, the movie was a bit mawkish, so I don't know why they are bawling their eyes out.
  • After losing his beloved dog, he bawled his eyes out for days.
  • Seeing my child as the valedictorian was such a sight to behold that I bawled my eyes out.
  • During the saddest part of the book, he starts to bawl his eyes out.
  • When I realized I was living the dream, overwhelmed with joy, I bawled my eyes out.
  • He was so overwhelmed by the sight of his newborn baby he bawled his eyes out.
  • I had to bawl my eyes out when she finally said, 'Welcome back,' after our long estrangement.
  • Their farewell was so emotional that she bawled her eyes out as her best friend moved away.
  • When the soccer team lost the championship, the players bawled their eyes out in disappointment.
  • I tried to keep a stiff upper lip, but I bawled my eyes out when they mentioned 'Till death do us part' in their wedding vows.

Examples of "Bawl My Eyes Out" in Pop Culture

This phrase also shows up in pop culture, often marking moments of intense emotional release.

Let's look at a few examples:

  • Andrew Garfield's performance at Death of a Salesman on Broadway made a writer for Glamour magazine bawl her eyes out.
  • In a compilation of movies that make people cry, a contributor named Diane mentioned that "I automatically bawl my eyes out" to any movie with a plot similar to "A Walk To Remember."
  • A TikTok video by the user @ive.been_the.archer expressed how the songs "Ronan" and "Soon You'll Get Better" make them "bawl my eyes out."
  • A Pinterest post about Robin Williams included a comment that watching a particular scene made someone "BAWL my eyes out."
  • Reflecting on Sinéad O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U," the singer herself mentioned thinking about her mother and "trying hard not to bawl my eyes out."
  • Jennifer Garner's reaction to finishing "The Office" was described as an emotional breakdown, with a comment stating that the finale makes someone "bawl my eyes out too!"

Other/Different Ways to Say "Bawl My Eyes Out"

Many other ways exist to express the same idea as "bawl my eyes out."

Here are some of them:

  • Cry a river
  • Weep uncontrollably
  • Sob my heart out
  • Cry like a baby
  • Cry one's heart out
  • Dissolve into tears
  • Break down crying
  • Wail in grief
  • Shed a flood of tears
  • Burst into tears

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Bawl My Eyes Out":

  • What does "bawl my eyes out" mean?

"Bawl my eyes out" means crying very hard or uncontrollably, usually due to intense emotions like sadness, joy, or frustration.

  • How can I use "bawl my eyes out" in a sentence?

You can use it to describe someone's reaction to a deeply emotional situation. Like, "Little did we know, the movie was so touching that we would all bawl our eyes out by the end."

  • Is "bawl my eyes out" a common expression?

Yes, it's a commonly used expression, especially in informal speech, to describe a strong emotional reaction that leads to intense crying.

  • Can "bawl my eyes out" be used in a positive context?

Yes, while it's often associated with sadness, you can also "bawl your eyes out" from joy, relief, or other strong positive emotions.

  • Does "bawl my eyes out" always imply tears?

Yes, this phrase specifically refers to crying and usually implies that the tears are quite profuse.

  • Where did the expression "bawl my eyes out" come from?

The expression combines "bawl," meaning to cry loudly, with the exaggerated imagery of crying so hard that one's eyes might fall out. It's a colorful way to describe intense emotion.

  • Can I use "bawl my eyes out" in formal writing?

It's generally considered informal, so it might not be suitable for very formal or academic writing. In those contexts, you might use terms like "weep profusely" instead.

  • Is this phrase used only in specific cultures or regions?

"Bawl my eyes out" is widely understood in English-speaking countries, but it might not be as common in some regions or cultures.

  • Can this expression be offensive or inappropriate in any context?

Generally, it's not considered offensive, but the vivid imagery might be too informal or casual for certain serious or sensitive situations.

  • What are some alternatives to "bawl my eyes out"?

Some alternatives include "cry a river," "weep uncontrollably," "sob my heart out," or "cry like a baby." These expressions can often be used interchangeably.

Final Thoughts About "Bawl My Eyes Out"

"Bawl my eyes out" is a colorful way to say someone is crying a lot, and it can be because they're super happy, really sad, or anything else that gets the tears flowing. Whether you're telling your own story or painting a picture of a scene in a book or movie, using "bawl my eyes out" can make your description of how someone's feeling a lot more vivid. It's a phrase people can easily relate to when you want to show just how strongly someone feels about something.

Here's a quick recap:

  • "Bawl my eyes out" shows strong emotion and is usually linked to crying very hard.
  • People often use this phrase to express their feelings about movies, books, personal news, and other emotional experiences.
  • This idiom isn't typically used in formal contexts but is well-known and widely accepted in casual conversation.
  • It doesn't have to be about sadness; you can bawl your eyes out from joy or other strong feelings too!

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