cry havoc

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the Anglo-Norman phrase crier havok (cry havoc) a signal to soldiers to seize plunder, from Old French crier (cry out, shout) + havot (pillaging, looting).

Verb[edit]

cry havoc

  1. (obsolete) To shout out 'Havoc!'; that is, to give an army the order to plunder.
    • 1599, Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war — Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
    • 1608, Do not cry havoc, where you should but hunt— Shakespeare, Coriolanus
    • 1961 Aug, George Steiner, “Homer and the Scholars”, The Atlantic Monthly, page 77: 
      War and mortality cry havoc, yet the center holds. That center is the affirmation that actions of body and heroic spirit are in themselves a thing of beauty, that renown shall outweigh the passing terrors of death, and that no catastrophe, not even the fall of Troy, is final.