Sometimes, when I get emotional. I get in a situation when only talking can lead in a burst of tears, so I try to prevent it and I feel like crying is on hold inside my throat.

Is there an expression in English that sums it up? or a sentence that describes it well?

I hope I could define well the situation. Thank you.

  • 4
    We refer to "a lump in the throat". books.google.com/…
    – TRomano
    Oct 2, 2015 at 10:36
  • 2
    Thank you Tim. But I really don't want to use the word lump Oct 2, 2015 at 10:51
  • As you can see, there are some good suggestions. Please can you give a sample sentence to show how you would like to use the expression. If you do that and leave a blank space where you want the expression to go, it will help us to find the best answer. Thanks. Oct 2, 2015 at 10:53
  • One of the suggestions answered my needs. Thanks everybody. Oct 2, 2015 at 10:53
  • 2
    @Mitch, I know right ? but my friend got a testicle cancer and all he was talking about was a lump until he did the proper diagnosis. He's ok now, but it's a bad memory for me as it reminds me of cancer. Oct 2, 2015 at 13:52

6 Answers 6


choke back tears. MacMillian also suggests, choke down.

Ms Ross choked back tears as she described what had happened.

  • 2
    This describes exactly the situation : Choking back/down tears. It feels like swallowing back tears. Thank you Oct 2, 2015 at 10:53
  • 1
    Good one. Also: "hold back tears".
    – Drew
    Oct 2, 2015 at 17:56

Fight back your tears

fight back: to struggle to repress

She tried to fight back her tears
The Free Dictionary

Blink back your tears

blink back one's tears (fig): to try to keep from crying

She blinked back her tears and went on
The Free Dictionary

Get a grip!

get a grip (on yourself): (spoken) control your emotions.

Oh, get a grip, Tess! It's really not as hard as you think
Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms


"Pull yourself together!" is a common instruction to someone in such distress. However it's not a very sensitive thing to say to someone in a vulnerable emotional state!

Or "I pulled myself together and carried on with my work".

Choking back the tears is good, dealing with the crying itself, but this addresses moving on with life or dealing with the negative situation as well.

  • 1
    In the same vein as pull yourself together is the phrase suck it up. I stubbed my toe, and although it hurt terribly, I had to suck it up and feed my gremlin.
    – Dan
    Oct 2, 2015 at 16:23
  • 1
    "Suck it up" is good too, but it's one I've heard more in America. Oct 2, 2015 at 16:57

To stifle your tears/quell your emotions?

  • "It was inappropriate to cry, so I stifled my tears and brought my chin up."
  • "I try to quell these emotions of frustration, but sometimes they get the better of me"
  • 4
    Why is either option a good option? Oct 2, 2015 at 18:36
  • Neither is a 'good option', they both have negative connotations, but they describe the effort behind holding back the tears. Stifle means to smother/restrain the tears, quell is to silence an uprising of emotion.
    – Vix
    Oct 4, 2015 at 12:09
  • In what contexts are they appropriate? What about them make them more suitable than "try to stop crying"? Oct 5, 2015 at 11:00
  • The question doesn't say that these are to be used in a compassionate sense when talking to someone else. It would be perfectly fine to describe "so I try to prevent it and I feel like crying is on hold inside my throat" as OP attempting to stifle their tears.
    – Vix
    Oct 5, 2015 at 11:04
  • There, edited to provide more context.
    – Vix
    Oct 5, 2015 at 11:16

Agreed that 'choking back tears' sounds very applicable to what you want. Just to add to the inquiry I think variations of 'maintaining composure' also works. One can 'regain composure' after experiencing something emotional that caused one to 'lose composure'. One can 'maintain composure' while relating an emotional situation or event.


Aymane, when-ever I feel like that, I would describe it as 'feeling really up-tight' Owen

I usually manage to deal with it by pausing in what I might be saying, glance away and saying to myself 'Be Strong, Be Strong' then shortly I'm able to proceed with what I'm wanting to say. Perhaps this might help, Owen

  • 2
    Welcome to English Language stack exchange. Given that this is an English Language site, it's to be expected that the OP is not looking for emotional support or how to deal with the crying, but rather looking for help with finding an appropriate expression to describe it. Oct 3, 2015 at 1:57

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.