Colloquial term for a sentimental work of art (song, book, play, movie); a melodrama; a tear-jerker.
"The beauty-shop comedy by Mary Rohde made its debut at the Dallas Theater Center in 1977, long before Steel Magnolias hit the scene. Though since overshadowed by that wash-and-set weeper, Ladybug proves the better play."
  Tom Sine, Dallas Morning news, "Review of Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home," July 2, 2002

"Of all the newbies, the PG-rated Warners release A Walk to Remember did best, landing in third place with $12.2 million at 2,411 screens. Pop star Moore makes her feature debut as a lovelorn preacher's daughter in the teen-skewing weeper flick."
  Bridget Byrne, "Black Hawk Down still up,"E! Online, January 28, 2002

The OED has usage going back to the 1930’s, and suggests the term was originally "Weepie," referring to melodrama in the cinema (weep + talkie).

The word weeper can be preceded by a quantifier to describe the intensity of melodrama, usually measured in the number of hankies (handkerchiefs) which will be required to catch your tears. Examples of how to apply scale to various tear-jerker plots:

  • one-hanky weeper: boy meets girl, boy and girl must part.
  • two-hanky weeper: boy meets girl, boy and girl must part, beloved friend dies in terrible accident, boy and girl reunite.
  • three-hanky weeper: boy meets girl, boy and girl must part; boy consoled by lovable family pet, boy and girl reunite, but beloved family pet contracts rabies and must be put down.
  • four-hanky weeper: boy meets girl, boy is mentally retarded, girl helps him overcome social stigma and retain custody of children, girl reveals children are terminally ill, grief-stricken father contracts rabies and must be put down.

Weep"er (?), n.


One who weeps; esp., one who sheds tears.


A white band or border worn on the sleeve as a badge of mourning.


3. Zool.

The capuchin. See Capuchin, 3 (a).


© Webster 1913.

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