The phrase “read ’em and weep” is often said in poker when someone has a winning hand, as the others “weep” over their loss. This expression can also refer to things that cause distress to others.
Example: I was waiting in line to get tickets for a newly released comedy movie. The guy in front of me, however, scooped up the last remaining ticket! Then, he turned to me while holding it between two of his greasy fingers. When I saw his face, I immediately recognized who it was. Blake Miles, a bully at my high school from ten years ago!
“Oh, did you want this?” Blake said with a heavy tone of sarcasm. “Well, read ’em and weep, chump! This ticket is mine now!” He then tore it in half. “No, Blake, not the movie ticket!” I shouted in disbelief.
Afterwards, I woke up and realized it was all a dream.
Read ‘Em And Weep – Its Origin
This phrase is believed to come from a popular card game known as poker. Poker is a game where players put together different combinations of cards that are worth a set amount of points. Certain arrangements of cards are worth more points than others, hence, during the game, players attempt to build the strongest combination of cards possible before the game is over. At the end, players reveal their cards to each other and whoever has the strongest set of cards wins.
Betting is sometimes involved when playing poker, and that can make losing a bit more painful. When it comes time for the players to reveal their cards, this is typically the point when someone who is feeling confident in their hand may decide to say (to the other people playing) the expression ‘read ’em and weep.’ The person saying this feels he has the strongest hand and has won, so he’s essentially telling the other players to read the combination of cards he has and to “weep” over their loss. Today the expression is used not just in card games like poker, but for anything that may cause slight discomfort to another person.
Anyways, the earliest written form of the phrase that I could find is from the early 20th century. For example, the term is used under the ‘Sports News’ section of The San Antonio Evening News newspaper, printed in July 1919:
“With the exception of one or two close decisions, Umpires Lewis and Schaffer did faily good work, probably because they had been made very good ‘boys’ by the irate fans . . . Few arguments were indulged in with the arbiters. Read ’em and weep!”
Something interesting to note: Around the same time, in 1919, several newspapers used the idiom right before presenting a list of items for sale. The implication was that they probably expected customers to “weep” with happiness after seeing their cheap prices.
- Well, would you look at that! Read ’em and weep fellas, because I have a royal flush.
Note: If the meanings for common phrases, sayings, and idioms is what you’re looking for, well, we have a list of them. As for their origins, we have those too but keep in mind that the origins for many of these terms are not clear. So then, in cases like that, I’ll either list a theory about how a phrase may have come about, or if not that, then I’ll at least try to include the earliest known quote of the phrase, typically. Of course, it’s possible that older quotes exist and I overlooked them.