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, along with similar idioms, is mostly said right after gaining some kind of advantage over an opponent.
Example: I was playing Texas Hold’em with a few of my friends. About half-way through, I received two aces at the start of the round, so I felt confident in winning. As I revealed my cards at the end, I teasingly said: “Read ’em and weep, everyone!”
Read ‘Em And Weep – Its Origin
It’s thought that this phrase comes from poker, a popular card game. In poker, players put together different cards that are worth a set amount of points. Certain combinations of cards are worth more points than others, so before the round is over, players want to try to have the strongest set of cards possible. When the round is over, players have the option to reveal their cards and then a new round begins.
If a player decides to reveal their cards at the end of a round, this is usually the time when the expression “read ’em and weep” is said. As their cards are placed face up on the table, they are essentially telling the other players: “read the combination of cards I have and weep over your loss.”
Anyway, the earliest printed form of the phrase I could find is from the early 20th century. For example, it is seen under the ‘Sports News’ section of The San Antonio Evening News newspaper, 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!”
Of note: Around the same time in 1919, several newspapers were using the idiom right before presenting a list of items for sale. It seems the implication was that customers would “weep” with happiness after seeing the cheap prices.
- Well, would you look at that! Read ’em and weep fellas, because I have a royal flush.
Tip: This phrase is an example of an idiom. To learn what that is, see our idiom examples page where all of that is explained! Or, if you want to find more phrases, use the menu at the top.
Similar Examples (other idioms used as a taunt):
- As I was playing Monopoly with my family, I built a hotel on Boardwalk. I then said to them: “How do you like them apples?“
- He was racing against his classmates and as he passed them all, he shouted: “Eat my dust!“