hue and cry


Definition of hue and cry

1a : a loud outcry formerly used in the pursuit of one who is suspected of a crime
b : the pursuit of a suspect or a written proclamation for the capture of a suspect
2 : a clamor of alarm or protest
3 : hubbub

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Did You Know?

Let's say it's the Middle Ages in England and a villainous highwayman has just made off with your purse of gold. What do you do? You can't call 911, or even the police, because in medieval England there was no organized police force (much less telephones). Instead, the job of fighting crime fell to ordinary citizens. If you were the victim of or a witness to a crime, you were expected to make a lot of noise - yelling something like "stop thief!" - and anyone who heard your "hue and cry" was legally bound to join in the pursuit of the criminal. Forms of the term "hue and cry" date from at least the 13th century and are first encountered in the Anglo-French legal documents of that period. Ultimately, it can be traced to the Old French words hue, meaning "outcry" or "noise," and cri, meaning "cry."

Examples of hue and cry in a Sentence

There was a hue and cry in opposition to the film. the hue and cry in the classroom when someone let loose a snake

Recent Examples on the Web

The hue and cry around a repeat drunken driver killing a police officer will likely mean James, if convicted, will spend a long time in prison. Keith Schubert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Probation, not prison, for a fourth drunken driving conviction? In Wisconsin, it's a common sentence.," 19 June 2019 Nurses have experienced burnout for decades, yet there hasn’t been the same intense hue and cry for them as there is for physicians. Timothy J. Hoff, STAT, "Medical training programs need to care about physician burnout. Should the rest of us?," 21 June 2018 And the hue and cry has largely been over what a disservice the short is to viewers. Michael Cavna, ajc, "Here’s why that Olaf short film doesn’t work as a lead-in to ‘Coco’," 30 Nov. 2017 Not everyone raising the hue and cry about illiberalism has exactly this same list in mind. Yoram Hazony, WSJ, "There’s No Such Thing as an ‘Illiberal’," 4 Aug. 2017 The hue and cry that rose up completely blindsided us. Mallory Ortberg, Slate Magazine, "Prudie advises a letter writer who is fortysomething, wants to marry, but never likes a guy for more than a year.," 12 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hue and 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 hue and cry

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hue and cry

hue outcry

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Dictionary Entries near hue and cry

Hudson Strait



hue and cry


hue circle


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Time Traveler for hue and cry

The first known use of hue and cry was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for hue and cry

hue and cry


English Language Learners Definition of hue and cry

: an angry protest about something

More from Merriam-Webster on hue and cry

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hue and cry Encyclopedia article about hue and cry

Comments on hue and cry

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


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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