What Does Burst Into Tears Mean?

Burst Into Tears Meaning

Definition: To begin to cry suddenly.

Origin of Burst into Tears

This expression has been in use for centuries. It likely developed from the phrasal verb burst into, which means to start suddenly.

The word tear has been around since before the year 900 and comes from Old English.

Burst into is commonly paired with tears because people often hold back their tears. When they can’t restrain themselves any longer, they start to cry powerfully and without warning.

Examples of Burst into Tears

bursted into tearsA woman uses this idiom while describing a sad movie that she watched recently.

Rodrigo: Did you have a nice weekend?

Alisha: Yeah, it was great! I saw the best movie.

Rodrigo: What was it about?

Alisha: It was a drama. It really reminded me of my own life. I burst into tears at multiple times during the film.

Rodrigo: That doesn’t sound like a very good movie.

Alisha: Well, it was very sad but also very good.

break into tears i bursted into tearsIn the below example, two friends are discussing a new boyfriend.

Luis: Are you okay?

Stephanie: Yes, I’m fine.

Luis: Are you sure? You look like you’re ready to burst into tears.

Stephanie: Fine. If you’re going to keep asking about it, I’m upset. My boyfriend and I just had a huge fight.

More Examples

In this quote, a woman explains that she was looking for a great school. She didn’t realize there was one she loved very close to her.

  • When a student came in one morning seeming a little out of it, I asked, “You OK?” He responded, “My brother is dead,” and then burst into tears. His 16-year-old brother had been shot the night before and died on his way to the hospital. –Chicago Tribune

The below article excerpt explains that a man started crying all of a sudden. He had lost his job and didn’t think he could feed his family.

Marianna Hof was sorting meat at the Laguna Food Pantry when a tall, blond man next to her burst into tears.

“I’m so embarrassed,” he told her, holding his hands to cover his face. –OC Register

Grammar of Burst Into Tears

The phrasal verb burst into can be conjugated. Burst is the same in the present, past, and past participle. In the simple present third person, it is bursts.

It is bursting in the progressive tenses. It is also inseparable, so burst and into cannot have any words between them.

Tears is always used in its plural form in this expression.


The phrase burst into tears is another way to say that a person starts weeping.