\ ˈkrī How to pronounce cry (audio) \
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 cryhounds in full cry
(2) : a peak of activity or excitement used in the phrase in full crya 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

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of cry in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun 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 Parents Nikkole and Rod leaned on each other, taking turns screaming in the shower or crying in the hospital cafeteria. Karina Bland, azcentral, "When Abri was diagnosed with cancer, her family found hope," 5 Dec. 2019 And Kelly cried twice so that has to count for something! Megan Stein, Country Living, "These 'Voice' Singers Were the Only Ones to Awkwardly Have Their Critique Cut Short," 3 Dec. 2019 In recent days, Trump has cried foul in ways angry and profane as Democrats set the stage for House Judiciary Committee hearings likely to produce articles of impeachment. Washington Post, "AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s Ukraine defense collides with facts," 30 Nov. 2019 Izzo said Winston, still coping with the Nov. 9 death of his brother Zachary, cried so much in MSU’s locker room before the game that there was a puddle of tears under seat. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State basketball survives Georgia's furious rally, 93-85, at Maui Invitational," 26 Nov. 2019 The lawsuit claims Kitchen exhibited symptoms shortly after being jailed for an alleged probation violation and within three days was seen crying in his cell and unable to stand without assistance. USA TODAY, "El Paso memorial, hogs by helicopter, trees for troops: News from around our 50 states," 14 Nov. 2019 No need to be bitter American connoisseurs of craft brew were crying in their ale upon the news that Anheuser-Busch InBev has struck a deal to buy Redhook, a pioneer in the small-brewers revolution that began 40 years ago. The Economist, "Business this week," 14 Nov. 2019 That’s why Peter Rodino, the Democratic chair of the House Judiciary Committee, cried in 1974 after voting for three articles of impeachment against Republican President Richard Nixon. Gilbert Garcia,, "Trump impeachment process a grim necessity," 9 Nov. 2019 The 22-year-old cried in her daughter's arms after her release. Victoria Albert, CBS News, "More than 450 Oklahoma inmates released in largest single-day commutation in U.S. history," 4 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The president used two interchanges with the media yesterday to turn impeachment into a partisan rallying cry, writes Jonathan Allen. NBC News, "Exhibit A in the Ukraine flap is Trump's refusal to answer one simple question," 3 Oct. 2019 In a single Sunday evening during Fashion Week, the industry offered a history lesson, a political rallying cry and an ode to joy. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "How one Sunday night at Fashion Week re-defined the stories that clothes can tell," 9 Sep. 2019 As the school year simmers down for South Florida students, the rallying cries to reduce gun violence are heating up. Rebecca Ellis, miamiherald, "These activists from Northwestern High are leading their own crusade to change things," 5 June 2018 The five-minute piece, written by Jason Eckardt, consists of cries, truncated syllables and sharp sibilant sounds that appear to resemble someone angrily shushing herself. New York Times, "After Trauma, a Silenced Vocalist Sings Again," 21 Nov. 2019 Actually for the thousandth time, happy cry, then thank us. 1. Maggie Malach,, "17 Things You Never Knew About Love Actually," 14 Nov. 2019 Soon the cries of tatirgaq, the sandhill crane, would be wavering across the morning sky, weaving their musical coda into the autumnal air currents. David James, Anchorage Daily News, "In ‘Shadowed Times,’ stories of an earlier — but not simpler — time," 9 Nov. 2019 The cries for a second Brexit referendum — which once seemed unthinkable — now have a momentary second wind., "The ‘‘People’s Vote rally’’ called for a fresh Brexit vote — more than three years after the first stunning result to leave the EU family.," 20 Oct. 2019 Sultana's voice was astounding, rising up to rafter-shattering cries, and recalling Billie Holiday's soulful tone during the more intimate moments. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Tash Sultana is like Ed Sheeran and Phish rolled into one at Milwaukee show, and so much more," 11 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for cry

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for cry

Last Updated

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Cry.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 14 December 2019.

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More Definitions for cry


How to pronounce cry- (audio)

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 How to pronounce cry (audio) \
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

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