hav·​oc | \ ˈha-vək How to pronounce havoc (audio) , -vik \

Definition of havoc

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : wide and general destruction : devastation A tornado wreaked havoc on the town two years ago.
2 : great confusion and disorder the blackout caused havoc in the city


havocked; havocking

Definition of havoc (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to lay waste : destroy

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Examples of havoc in a Sentence

Noun The disease can play havoc with the body's immune system. Several small children can create havoc in a house.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Although Texas is the latest example, changing weather patterns have wreaked havoc across the globe. Miriam Tuerk, Forbes, "Renewable Energy Is The Solution To Texas’ Blackouts, Not The Cause," 6 Apr. 2021 As the pandemic wreaked havoc on most of the world over the past year, many of the world’s richest people saw their fortunes rise, and 660 more people were added to the Forbes global billionaires list, the magazine said Tuesday. BostonGlobe.com, "Forbes’ annual world billionaires list exploded during the pandemic," 6 Apr. 2021 The resulting turmoil has wreaked havoc on the finances of churches across the New York region and the country, including icons like St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan and more humble houses of worship like St. Sebastian. New York Times, "The Virus Drove Churchgoers Away. Will Easter Bring Them Back?," 3 Apr. 2021 Having wreaked havoc on their final year of high school, the pandemic proceeded to disrupt the Class of 2021’s post-graduation plans. Katie Reilly, Time, "'A Big Asterisk on the Future.' High School Counselors on Challenges Facing the Class of 2021," 1 Apr. 2021 The pandemic wreaked havoc on the restaurant industry nationwide, as businesses shut their doors, staff members lost their jobs and chefs were forced to make agonizing decisions about the future. Mary Colurso | Mcolurso@al.com, al, "From BBQ pit to TV kitchen: Look for Alabama’s Roscoe Hall on ‘Top Chef’," 31 Mar. 2021 The coronavirus wreaked havoc on global supply chains last year, as lockdowns temporarily closed factories and disrupted the normal flow of trade. Hanna Ziady, CNN, "Global shipping was in chaos even before the Suez blockage. Shortages and higher prices loom," 26 Mar. 2021 Notre Dame also issued a full-court press that wreaked havoc in the first half. Shelby Dermer, The Enquirer, "Northern Kentucky High School basketball: Notre Dame rolls Ludlow in 9th Region, 61-16," 26 Mar. 2021 My diagnosis wreaked havoc on each member of my nuclear family, harming them, hurting them, for many years. Washington Post, "My life was upended for 35 years by a cancer diagnosis. A doctor just told me I was misdiagnosed.," 26 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb So asking other states for help before Maria, which might have lined up resources for Puerto Rico more quickly, would have been an expensive undertaking without knowing for sure what havoc the storm would wreak. Patricia Mazzei And Omaya Sosa Pascual, miamiherald, "How a slow response hurt Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria | Miami Herald," 19 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'havoc.' 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 havoc


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1575, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for havoc

Noun and Verb

Middle English havok, from Anglo-French, modification of Old French havot plunder

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Time Traveler for havoc

Time Traveler

The first known use of havoc was in the 15th century

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Statistics for havoc

Last Updated

10 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Havoc.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/havoc. Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for havoc



English Language Learners Definition of havoc

: a situation in which there is much destruction or confusion


hav·​oc | \ ˈha-vək How to pronounce havoc (audio) \

Kids Definition of havoc

1 : wide destruction The storm wreaked havoc.
2 : great confusion and lack of order My young nephews caused havoc.

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More from Merriam-Webster on havoc

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for havoc

Nglish: Translation of havoc for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of havoc for Arabic Speakers

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