When to use cry and when to use weep? Which one goes more formal? Which one should have preference in general use?

2 Answers 2


In short, weep is more about tears, while cry is more about the sound.

Merriam-Webster entries:

Weep: [vi 1] to express passion (as grief) by shedding tears

Cry: [vi 2] to shed tears often noisily

Sob: [vi 1b] to cry or weep with convulsive catching of the breath

  • Some times we use "He's crying." and sometimes "He's weeping."(in the same context also). Why ?
    – Akshay
    Feb 28, 2011 at 18:14
  • @Akshay Thakur What do you mean by the same context. Just the same situation or the same page? Despite that, I guess we just use different words for a similar meaning to make articles look good.
    – user3812
    Feb 28, 2011 at 18:36
  • I meant that Meaning of both sentences are same , then when to use "cry" and when "weep" ?
    – Akshay
    Feb 28, 2011 at 18:39
  • 3
    @Akshay Thakur, It depends. weep is more literary and more dramatic.
    – user3812
    Feb 28, 2011 at 18:45

Weep is a little more archaic or poetic, so there's a mild preference for using cry instead. The only time you must use weep rather than cry is if you think the wrong meaning of cry will be understood by mistake.

  • 4
    I think Weep is a lot more archaic / poetic, and rarely occurs in everyday speech. Mar 23, 2011 at 0:13
  • @FumbleFingers: weep is rare, true, but cry is pretty uncommon in everyday speech too, so I don't think the distinction is as dramatic as you're making out.
    – user1579
    Mar 23, 2011 at 14:04
  • 4
    I don't think cry is uncommon at all. Babies cry all the time, but they don't often weep. In my experience, weeping is something only running sores and people in mental distress do. Crying is much more generic, covering lacrimation due to physical pain, talking loudly, animal noises, etc. Mar 23, 2011 at 16:14

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