Cry, Havoc! - a bit more

Posted by James Briggs on December 23, 2001

In Reply to: Cry, Havoc! posted by ESC on December 23, 2001

: : what does this term mean???? I really want to know

: DOGS OF WAR - "Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war" is from Julius Caesar (Act 3, scene 1, 270-275) by William Shakespeare. " 'Cry 'Havoc!,' which also surfaces in 'King John,' is derived from the Old French 'crier havoc' - to send out the signal to begin pillaging. Latter-day usage of 'cry havot' follows Shakespeare in the figurative sense of 'call down destruction.'" From "Brush Up on Your Shakespeare!" By Michael Macrone (Gramercy Books, New York, 1999).

Havock or Havoc: To wreak havock means to cause confusion and possibly death to one's enemies. The expression started out as "Cry Havock" an old military cry derived from the old French "havot" meaning "plunder". The cry was very common in the 14th and 15th centuries but was banned, on pain of death, in the ninth year of Richard II's reign. The expression is used in a number of Shakespearian plays.