There was the following sentence in a New York Times (January 18) article titled, “Peeling away the plastic”:

“Those who have seen “Mitt” - which debuts on Netflix on Friday - are agog that filmmaker Greg Whiteley has accomplished what Romney himself, --- Willard Mitt Romney seems all too human.

He wells up. He prays with his family, kneeling on the floor of hotel rooms, and plays with them in the snow. He refers to himself sardonically as “the flipping Mormon” and frets that he could become a loser like Michael Dukakis, who “can’t get a job mowing lawns.”

Link to the article.

I was drawn to the word, “well up.” Although neither of Cambridge or Merriam-Webster English Dictionary carries this word as an idiom, Oxford English Dictionary gives definition of “well up” as “rise,” together with examples,

-Tears welled up in his eyes,

-He could feel the hatred welling up inside him,

-Pity welled up in her heart,

Do the OED’s definition – ‘rise’ and examples apply to “He (Mitt Romney) wells up,” in the above quote? What does it mean? Is this sentence self-complete?

1 Answer 1


In the article it is not emboldened in the way you have shown it. It simply means he gets emotional to the point where he may appear to have tears in his eyes. As someone who has had experience of Mormons, this is not unusual. The religion encourages and facilitates an emotional delivery of the message by the way people are urged to 'bear testimony' to its truthfulness. They will refer to such as a 'spiritual experience'.

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