c. 1200, "to cry with short breaths," probably of imitative origin, related to Old English seofian "to lament," Old High German sufan "to draw breath," West Frisian sobje "to suck." Related: Sobbed; sobbing.
late 14c., from sob (v.). Sob story is from 1913. Sob sister "female journalist who writes sentimental stories or advice columns" is from 1912.