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Good cry - is it an idiom? If so.. what does it really, mean? For example:

Your letter certainly caused me to have my first good cry.

What is the meaning of good cry in this sentence?

  • 2
    I think, it means a cry from the heart. A good cry helps you feel better afterwards. – user33000 May 31 '16 at 19:42
  • I think it could also mean a long period of crying. – Kodos Johnson May 31 '16 at 21:27
  • In Northwest USA, "a good cry" and "a good laugh" mean crying/laughing without holding back, often with a connotation of occurring over an extended period of time. I haven't yet heard the connotation others are suggesting for "a good cry" (that it's rejuvenating, healthy, or somehow feels good, just that it's bawling rather than ordinary crying). – person27 Jun 1 '16 at 6:04
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Yes, a good cry is somewhat idiomatic. The phrase has been around for quite some time, too. An 1869 magazine article read:

Completely overcome by chagrin and disappointment, I had a good cry over it.

and in an 1887 issue of Harper's:

How often in her own room, distracted between those conflicting fears and hopes, she sat down with her face between her hands and had a good cry over it!

More recently, in a 2004 novel by Steve Tesich:

He had a good cry over it and it made him feel better. Made him feel good again. Good and heartbroken. Good and scared. But basically good. He was feeling good about something again.

So, what is a good cry? The website AgingCare.com offers a hint:

Researchers have proven what many caregivers have already figured out on their own: sometimes there's nothing like a good cry to make you feel better. Crying is cathartic.

We can cry about a lot of things, but a "good cry" will make us feel somewhat rejuvenated and emotionally cleansed. When comparing the improved moods of criers as compared to their more "stoic" peers, one researcher said:

This pattern is often found in retrospective studies where people are asked to rate their mood levels after having experienced a good cry.

Going back to your original sentence, it's hard to say for sure why the person cried – not without knowing what was in the letter. Whatever emotion triggered the tears, though, we know it was a good cry, meaning that the cry was deep, and that some emotions were released to the point where the person felt "cleansed" afterward.

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Yes, it's an idiom. It's typically used with the article "a":

He just needed to have a good cry.

The cry could be for any reason, but the idea is that the person, as @Sina said, will usually feel better after crying. That's why it's considered "good." But "good" also implies that the cry is emotional and not just a few small tears. In this sense, "good" implies "considerable" or "big."

By contrast, there's no such thing as "a bad cry," or any other type of cry, for that matter. There is a phrase "a loud cry," but the cry means a scream in this case.

  • 'By contrast, there's no such thing as "a bad cry," or any other type of cry, for that matter.' But there also is "a little cry" . – Rompey May 31 '16 at 21:36

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