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

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 As with the other entries in the franchise, kids can expect plenty of cartoon slapstick and general silliness as Gru and the Minions wreak havoc on new adversaries. Lauren Morgan, EW.com, 13 May 2022 The possible consequences of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion that would wreak havoc on all of our fundamental rights are clear. Maya Wiley, The New Republic, 13 May 2022 Jodie McGee of the Valley Traffic Division told Fox 11 News that the participants often wreak havoc in communities. Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2022 Fourteen robust species were recruited from Brazil’s Mata Atlântica rainforest, but concerns mounted that São Paulo’s gusty winds might wreak havoc with a vertical forest. Paige Darrah, WSJ, 6 May 2022 Fossey has seen these loans wreak havoc for some students and families. Kat Mckim, Fortune, 6 May 2022 Some wrongdoers might figure that the AI will wreak havoc, and do not care whether this is profitable for them or not. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 5 May 2022 Without Embiid defending the paint, Heat center Bam Adebayo has been able to wreak havoc. Matt Eppers, USA TODAY, 5 May 2022 Dog urine can also wreak havoc on hardscapes such as decks and garden paths, so, if possible, choose nonporous materials that won’t stain or absorb liquids and odors. Washington Post, 4 May 2022 See More

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.

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


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


derivative of havoc entry 1

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

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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Havoc.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/havoc. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for havoc


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on havoc

Nglish: Translation of havoc for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of havoc for Arabic Speakers


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