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 Typhoon Hagibis is expected to bring torrential rain and violent winds to southern Japan this weekend, potentially causing havoc to the final World Cup group stage matches. George Ramsay, CNN, "Rugby World Cup keeps nervous eye on Typhoon Hagibis trajectory," 8 Oct. 2019 Florida’s defense is No. 3 in the nation, causing havoc on 25 percent of snaps. Christopher Smith, al, "Florida will expose Auburn’s OL, cover as home underdog," 1 Oct. 2019 The storm was causing havoc for travelers on Florida’s east coast, where some airports and gasoline stations were closed. Reuters, The Mercury News, "Hurricane Dorian tracker: Category 3 storm creeps toward Florida," 3 Sep. 2019 The storm on Monday stalled over the northwestern Bahamas, causing havoc for Grand Bahama. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "DisneyWorld, Legoland and other Orlando tourist parks close as Dorian nears Florida," 3 Sep. 2019 No exaggeration: The lakes also swelled to their highest level in decades, causing havoc for both people simply wanting to enjoy the summer and endangered species that inhabit the area, the New York Times’ Mitch Smith reports. cleveland.com, "Midwest states are paying more attention to PFAs in drinking water: The Flyover," 26 Aug. 2019 South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for fast and stern quarantine measures to prevent the disease from wreaking havoc on the pork industry, the presidential Blue House said. Washington Post, "South Korea culls pigs after confirming African swine fever," 18 Sep. 2019 When winter strikes, cool and dry air may infiltrate your home and wreak havoc on your sinuses and skin. Paige Szmodis, Popular Mechanics, "Breathe Easier With One of These 8 Best Humidifiers," 13 Sep. 2019 Hear Peace Custom & Electronic Ear Protection $65 & $799, Lainie Ortman, 216-559-4444; hear.peacetexas@gmail.com Things that go bang can wreak havoc on one’s hearing, leading to tinnitus and hearing loss. John Goodspeed, ExpressNews.com, "Scouting interesting stuff to make hunts more fun," 12 Sep. 2019 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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Statistics for havoc

Last Updated

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for havoc

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

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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

Comments on havoc

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


not being in agreement or harmony

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