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 Intense thunderstorms and heavy rainfall wreaked havoc across the southeastern United States early Friday, killing at least five people and cutting power to more than 300,000 homes and businesses. NBC News, "After wreaking havoc all week, deadly winter storm exits just in time for the weekend," 7 Feb. 2020 Couple that with an offensive line that probably doesn’t get enough credit, and San Francisco will not be able to wreak its usual havoc. Usa Today Sports, USA TODAY, "Super Bowl predictions: What will be biggest surprise of 49ers vs. Chiefs matchup?," 3 Feb. 2020 There's no easy answer: A handful of substances in wine, particularly red wine, can wreck havoc on the unlucky people whose bodies can't handle them. Claire Maldarelli, Popular Science, "Why does red wine make me feel sick?," 27 Dec. 2019 Sunday’s storm comes on the heels of a large storm that buried Colorado and Wyoming in 3 feet of snow and moved into the Mid West just before Thanksgiving, wrecking havoc on Thanksgiving travel plans. Kathleen Mcwilliams, courant.com, "Sunday storm could bring 6 inches of snow to parts of Connecticut," 28 Nov. 2019 Garrett has been fined a few times for hits, but this is not one of the league’s rogue athletes creating terror and havoc every Sunday. Terry Pluto, cleveland, "Cleveland Browns: Another look at Myles Garrett without excusing or demonizing him," 20 Nov. 2019 Detroit Free Press Record high water levels on the Great Lakes are wreaking havoc along Michigan’s coastlines, swallowing beaches and houses, swamping sewer systems, flooding roads and public buildings and turning farm fields into lakes. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Record high water levels wreaking havoc on Great Lakes coastline cities," 23 Jan. 2020 Instead of wreaking havoc, the year’s end was a nonevent. Michael S. Derby, WSJ, "Fed’s Harker Says Rates Should Hold Steady For Now, Money Markets Calm," 15 Jan. 2020 The January 12 quake wreaked havoc, becoming one of the largest natural disasters in human history. Richard Kurin, Smithsonian Magazine, "To safeguard cultural heritage, a massive Smithsonian-led cultural rescue operation can now be mobilized to help countries recover from disaster," 10 Jan. 2020 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

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Havoc.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/havoc. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for havoc


How to pronounce havoc (audio)

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

Spanish Central: Translation of havoc

Nglish: Translation of havoc for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of havoc for Arabic Speakers

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