cry for help

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cry for help (plural cries for help)

  1. Used other than figuratively or idiomatically: see cry,‎ for,‎ help.
    We heard the drowning woman's cries for help and ran to assist.
  2. (idiomatic) Acting out as a means of displaying a subconscious desire for attention or help.
    In her second year at the school Alexis stopped doing her homework and would often scribble on walls. Her teachers wondered whether this was a cry for help, or if she was simply misbehaving.