What is a word for the feeling you get when you watch a sad movie, the feeling that you are about to cry?

I am looking for a single word that describes the feeling/state.

  • When your eyes well or brim with tears? Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 18:59
  • What you actually ask, "on the brim of tears" is not what I'd describe as "overwhelming". A word for truly overwhelming grief is despair, but that's far beyond mere "feeling about to cry".
    – SF.
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 11:11
  • When you watch a movie, you do not experience grief. Grief is what you experience when you watch your child/mother/spouse die in front of you. What you refer to is a mild and temporary unhappiness. If you feel overwhelming grief as a result of watching a work of entertainment you may be in need of medical help. Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 14:06

5 Answers 5


Lachrymose might be the word you're looking for. IT can be used to describe both the cause of grief and the person himself/herself:

1. Inducing tears; sad: "a lachrymose children's classic".
2. Given to shedding tears readily; tearful
  • Valid by dictionary definitions, but "lachrymose" is a very obscure word. I like to think that I'm a well-educated and literate person, and I had to look it up.
    – Jay
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 20:39

Your question is a little confusing. I am not sure that "overwhelming grief" is a feeling anyone would get from watching a sad movie.

Many words and phrases pertaining to "deep sadness" have finely-tuned semantics specific to the loss of a loved one, to disappointment, to rejection, to love, and so on.

Check out those links and look to the synonyms. There may be one that is the perfect fit for the emotion you are seeking to describe.

To be "choked up" Means to be on the verge of tears, and it conjures the associated inability to speak.

To be grief stricken is an idiom descibing the condition of suffering overwhelming grief, but this is not what you get from watching a sad movie.

If someone is so upset that they cannot be comforted, they are inconsolable.

  • 2
    "I am not sure that 'overwhelming grief' is a feeling any MAN would get from watching a sad movie." Fixed that for you.
    – Jay
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 19:33
  • Lolol youare right Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 22:42

Do you really mean "overwhelming grief"? That's pretty much the most extreme possible level of sadness.

There are a variety of words for sadness, depending on the level and, to some extent, the cause. Some examples: unhappy, sad, morose, despondent, blue, depressed, grieving.

"Grief" is usually understood to mean sadness at the death of a friend or relative. You wouldn't normally say, "I grieved over the fact that I missed getting the toaster at the sale price", except as hyperbole.

  • I like blue, or depressed. I also agree that overwhelming grief is excessive and would be more appropriate for describing someone who experienced something extremely tragic.
    – Alex W
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 3:35
  • @AlexW Exactly. You might say, "I felt overwhelming grief when my son died". But "I felt overwhelming grief watching a sad movie" sounds very excessive. Maybe if you explained it, if you said that it reminded you of some terrible personal tragedy, for example.
    – Jay
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 20:37

Weepy ("Inclined to weep; tearful or lachrymose"). Also consider tearful, sad ("Feeling sorrow; sorrowful, mournful"), and of course soggy ("Soaked with moisture or other liquid"). Also empathetic ("Showing empathy for others, and recognizing their feelings") and bathetic ("Overly sentimental" with exaggerated pathos).


Overwhelming grief can be at least as devastating as, and is at some level indistinguishable from, the most severe forms of clinical depression.

You are not in a fog; you are frozen in amber. Your ever-present grief is like a giant gorilla in the tiny room of your contracting mind, and there is almost no corner left for you; it crushes you until you can hardly breathe. Wave after black wave of despair washes over you. You fall apart completely, again and again. You probably shouldn’t drive. The color has all faded from the world, the flavors of food turned to sawdust. You cannot eat, and you can barely sleep. Every night is filled with the most terrifying of nightmares, and you come to hate sleep and avoid it — and then the nightmares come to your waking mind. You feel like the best part of you has been savagely ripped out, and all that is left is a black pit that threatens to suck you down into it as you reel with vertigo at its precipice. Just as person deeply in love will be reminded of their beloved by every little thing they see or do, so too is the person constantly reminded of the one they have lost forever. Your brain will start to undergo organic changes that are difficult to arrest and even harder to reverse. You may die.

That is overwhelming grief. It is nothing whatsoever like getting teary-eyed at watching a sad movie. Perhaps you would like to rephrase your question.

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