\ˈkrī \
cried; crying

Definition of cry 

(Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to utter loudly : shout He cried "Wait!" but it was too late.

2 archaic : beg, beseech

3 : to proclaim publicly : advertise cry their wares

intransitive verb

1 : to call loudly : shout She cried out for help.

2 : to shed tears often noisily : weep, sob The child began to cry after she dropped her ice-cream cone.

3 : to utter a characteristic sound or call heard the seagulls crying

4 : to require or suggest strongly a remedy or disposition (see disposition sense 2b) … there are a hundred things which cry out for planning …— Roger Burlingame

cry havoc

: to sound an alarm

cry over spilled milk

: to express vain regrets for what cannot be recovered or undone You made a mistake, but there's no use crying over spilled milk.

cry wolf

: to give alarm unnecessarily News organizations have been warned not to cry wolf.


plural cries

Definition of cry (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : an instance of crying: such as

a : an inarticulate utterance of distress, rage, or pain

b obsolete : outcry, clamor

2a obsolete : proclamation

b cries plural, Scottish : banns

3 : entreaty, appeal a cry for help

4 : a loud shout

6a : common report

b : a general opinion

7 : the public voice raised in protest or approval

8 : a fit of weeping

9 : the characteristic sound or call of an animal

10a : a pack of hounds

b(1) : pursuit used in the phrase in full cry hounds in full cry

(2) : a peak of activity or excitement used in the phrase in full cry a campaign in full cry

variants: or cryo-

Definition of cry- (Entry 3 of 3)

: cold : freezing cryonics cryogen

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Synonyms for cry

Synonyms: Verb

bawl, bay, bellow, call, holler, hollo (or halloo), roar, shout, sound off, thunder, vociferate, yell

Synonyms: Noun

call, note

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Examples of cry in a Sentence


The baby is crying. Is she okay? Some people cry more easily than others. He cried silently while the song played. She cried all the way home from school that day. She couldn't imagine why anyone would cry over a stupid movie. She was crying with relief. They cried tears of joy. “Help,” he cried, “Get a doctor! Quick!” I heard someone cry “Wait!” but the train pulled away anyway. She'd never heard the sound of sea gulls crying by the shore.


The baby's cry woke me out of a deep sleep. There was a cry of “Fire” and we all rushed for the exits. The children were playing a game and their happy cries echoed through the house. the wild cry of a coyote
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Activists planned to stir up as much noise as possible and play harrowing recordings of children crying — a protest against the Trump administration’s separation of families at the U.S. border with Mexico. Ceylan Yeginsu,, "Trump says, ‘They like me a lot in the UK.’ 100,000 protesters may disagree," 12 July 2018 Widely circulated audio of children crying at a detention facility and reports of children sleeping on concrete floors galvanized public opinion against the policy. Caroline Simon, USA TODAY, "What you need to know before Saturday's massive immigration protests," 29 June 2018 In response to the challenges in reuniting such young children with their parents, according to the Post, U.S. authorities are compiling mug shots of the children in detention — some of which are of the children crying. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "More Than 2,000 Immigrant Children Are Still Separated From Their Parents," 25 June 2018 Fueling the public and political furor: Reports describing anguished children crying for their parents and being held en masse in cages of chain-link fencing. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "How Melania Trump’s Jacket Inadvertently Raised Money for Democrats," 25 June 2018 The heart-rending sound of children crying for their mothers and the disturbing sight of little kids confined in wire cages are more powerful than any president. George Skelton,, "Trump's order to end his family separation policy was purely political — not a change of heart," 21 June 2018 Die-hard Trump supporters remained steadfast, even as heart-rending photos of children held in cages and audio of terrified children crying out for their parents stoked outrage among Democrats and Republicans alike. Angie Wang And Dave Kolpack,, "Anderson Twp. Trustee Andrew Pappas among Trump supporters who backed policy to separate children," 21 June 2018 The policy became public in the following weeks and even audio recordings of immigrant children crying out for their parents was played on the Senate floor in Washington to inspire legislative action. Thomas Novelly, The Courier-Journal, "Some governors pulled National Guard from the border. Not Kentucky.," 20 June 2018 This week Pro Publica published an audio recording of children crying at the Texas detention centers. Jim Morrill, charlotteobserver, "Is the separation of families a 'cruel' policy or result of a broken system?," 19 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Add babies that have no beginning, then favor the former or cry. The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "2018 Rose Festival Treasure Hunt: Clue 8," 3 June 2018 The Carters’ laugh and cry and hug and flash their megawatt smiles when Chicago takes their son with the seventh pick. Charlotte Wilder,, "The NBA Bar Mitzvah: Wendell Carter Jr. Becomes a Made Man on Draft Night," 25 June 2018 Oh, and those cries captured by audio published by ProPublica? Rachel Leingang, azcentral, "Meet the man who says he made Trump overturn family separation policy," 21 June 2018 Even the most valiant headbangers’ cries quickly dissolved, giving way to Araya’s inimitable, bloodcurdling roar. Bryan Rolli, Billboard, "Slayer Close Out First Leg of Farewell Tour with Blistering, Career-Spanning Austin Performance," 21 June 2018 Mohammed's immediate family sat behind the prosecutors, while Andira's children sat behind the defense, letting out cries in Arabic in response to the guilty verdict, WOAI reported. Matthew Martinez, star-telegram, "'Sudden passion': Two years for woman convicted of killing nephew who was her lover," 8 June 2018 Boris Rodriguez, 24, who is searching for his wife, cries after seeing the condition of his neighborhood, destroyed by the erupting Volcan de Fuego on June 4, 2018. Madison Park, Holly Yan And Flora Charner, CNN, "Entire families buried as Guatemalans battle to recover the dead after volcano eruption," 5 June 2018 The bassinet doubles as an always-on soothing device, equipped with tiny microphones to cycle through five levels of louder sound and faster jiggling that correspond with the intensity of baby’s cries. Jennifer Van Grove,, "Snoozing on the mommy job," 19 May 2018 Stifled sobs and soft cries were heard through the 359th District Court Tuesday as the jury read the sentencing for a 34-year-old New Caney man found guilty of his girlfriend’s murder - life in prison and a $10,000 fine assessment. Jennifer Summer, Houston Chronicle, "New Caney man sentenced to life for girlfriend’s murder in 2015," 16 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cry.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cry


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cry


Middle English crien, from Anglo-French crier, from Latin quiritare to make a public outcry, perhaps from Quirit-, Quiris, Roman citizen


Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French cri, derivative of crier "to cry entry 1"

Combining form

Greek krýos (neuter s-stem) "icy cold, frost" (of uncertain origin) + -o-

Note: Greek krýos has long been associated with Latin crusta "hard surface layer, crust" and Greek krýstallos "ice, rock crystal," though these words most likely have different explanations (see crust, crystal entry 1). The best possibilities for comparison are perhaps Old Norse hrjósa "to shiver" and Tocharian B krośce "cold" (from Proto-Tocharian *kwroscē per Douglas Adams, A Dictionary of Tocharian B, 2nd edition [Rodopi, 2013], p. 236). Old High German roso, rosa "crust, layer of ice" may not belong here if the "ice" sense is secondary. On the basis of the related derivative krȳmós "icy cold, frost, chill," a comparison has been made with Avestan xrūma- "horrible," which, if reconstructed as *kruh2-mo-, may contain Indo-European *kruh2- "(dried) blood" (see raw entry 1), but the sense development "blood" > "horror" > "chill, cold" seems quite tenuous. The vowel length in krȳmós may be in any case of secondary origin. (For details see Robert Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek [Leiden: Brill, 2010], p. 786.)

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Dictionary Entries near cry







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Statistics for cry

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for cry

The first known use of cry was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for cry



English Language Learners Definition of cry

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to produce tears from your eyes often while making loud sounds because of pain, sorrow, or other strong emotions

: to shout or say something loudly

of a bird or animal : to make the loud sound that is usual for a particular type of bird or animal



English Language Learners Definition of cry (Entry 2 of 2)

: a loud sound that someone makes to express pain, hunger, sadness, etc.

: something that is said loudly : a shout or call

: a loud sound made by an animal or bird


\ˈkrī \
cried; crying

Kids Definition of cry

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to shed tears : weep

2 : to make a loud call : shout, exclaim “Wait!” she cried as the car drove away.

3 : to utter a special sound or call We could hear gulls crying through the fog.


plural cries

Kids Definition of cry (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a loud call or shout (as of pain, fear, or joy)

2 : appeal entry 1 sense 2 a cry for help

3 : an act or period of weeping When she left, I had a good cry.

4 : the special sound made by an animal a hawk's cry

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More from Merriam-Webster on cry

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cry

Spanish Central: Translation of cry

Nglish: Translation of cry for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cry for Arabic Speakers

Comments on cry

What made you want to look up cry? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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