hue and cry


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

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 over this benighted movement, in which institutions of higher learning are turning their backs on their fundamental mission, will likely not be enough to stop the forces operating under the cover of budgetary necessity. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 24 Aug. 2023 Convincing people who doubt the validity of climate change and evolution to change their beliefs requires overcoming a set of ingrained cognitive biases In principle, science should set itself apart from the hue and cry of partisan bickering. Adam B. Cohen, Scientific American, 1 July 2018 So why all the hue and cry now? Paul Elie, The New Yorker, 27 Jan. 2023 The Every hue and cry was a shabby business deal. Howard Schneider, National Review, 15 Aug. 2020 When Tom Cruise took on the role for what would be two films, a hue and cry was heard across Jack Reacher Land. Wsj Arts, WSJ, 13 Jan. 2023 But this is the usual hue and cry, with nothing really new. Phil Plait, Discover Magazine, 22 Nov. 2011 Once the Supreme Court invalidates the order, the usual hue and cry about the court being a tool of conservatives will begin. WSJ, 7 Dec. 2022 Suddenly, Republicans are raising a hue and cry about getting serious about mental health. Michael Tomasky, The New Republic, 31 May 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hue and cry.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


hue outcry

First Known Use

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

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


Dictionary Entries Near hue and cry

Cite this Entry

“Hue and cry.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

hue and cry

: a loud outcry formerly used in the pursuit of someone suspected of a crime
: a loud noise of alarm or protest

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