To cry wolf

Posted by TheFallen on March 31, 2003

In Reply to: Crying wolf,or to call a cry wolf posted by Ilana gavra on March 31, 2003

: I would like you to help me to understand the phrase, and how can I use it in a sentance?

To cry wolf means deliberately to raise a false alarm, and has an implication of there being dire consequences to follow if you tell such a lie.

It comes from an old folk-tale, "The little boy who cried wolf", where a small boy was put in charge of watching over the sheep of a village at night. He was upset and bored at being assigned this duty, so during the first night he was stationed at his task, to get some form of revenge, he decided to wake the village with yells of "Wolf! Wolf!" The villagers all rushed from their beds to his aid in driving off the wolf, but there was none to be found. However the boy insisted that there had been a wolf, so the villagers with some suspicion returned back to their houses to sleep. Exactly the same thing happened the second night. The boy again roused the entire village with his yells that a wolf was approaching, the villagers again all rushed to his aid, but again no wolf was to be seen. The boy was delighted at his mischief.

On the third night, the boy really did see a wolf approaching him and the sheep, so yelled his cry for help again. The villagers heard him, but decided that, since the boy was a proven liar, they weren't going to waste their time and get up to help him, because they believed that no wolf was there, no matter how much the boy might shout. The boy's cries soon stopped, because the wolf attacked and killed him.

As for your request for an example, the following paste is from The Guardian, a national UK newspaper:

Trades unions will today accuse Britain's bosses of crying wolf about the cost of the national minimum wage and call for the hourly rate to be raised by more than £1.

As the Confederation of British Industry warns the low pay commission that lifting the pay floor too sharply would threaten "vulnerable" firms, the TUC will insist that it could be raised to between £5 and £5.30 an hour without causing job losses.

"The minimum wage has had no effect on employment levels, including in the low paying sectors," according to John Monks, the TUC's general secretary.