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cry (krī)
v. cried (krīd), cry·ing, cries (krīz)
1. To shed tears, especially as a result of strong emotion such as grief, sorrow, pain, or joy.
2. To call loudly; shout.
3. To utter a characteristic sound or call. Used of an animal.
4. To demand or require immediate action or remedy: grievances crying out for redress.
1. To utter loudly; call out.
2. To proclaim or announce in public: crying one's wares in the marketplace.
3. To bring into a particular condition by weeping: cry oneself to sleep.
4. Archaic To beg for; implore: cry forgiveness.
n. pl. cries (krīz)
1. A loud utterance of an emotion, such as fear, anger, or despair.
2. A loud exclamation; a shout or call.
3. A fit of weeping: had a good long cry.
4. An urgent entreaty or appeal.
5. A public or general demand or complaint.
6. A common view or general report.
7. An advertising of wares by calling out: vendors' cries at the fish market.
8. A rallying call or signal: a cry to arms.
9. A slogan, especially a political one.
10. The characteristic call or utterance of an animal.
a. The baying of hounds during the chase.
b. A pack of hounds.
12. Obsolete Clamor; outcry.
13. Obsolete A public announcement; a proclamation.
Phrasal Verbs:
cry down
To belittle or disparage.
cry off
To break or withdraw from a promise, agreement, or undertaking.
cry up
To praise highly; extol.
cry havoc
To sound an alarm; warn.
cry (one's) eyes/heart out
To weep inconsolably for a long time.
cry on (someone's) shoulder
To tell one's problems to someone else in an attempt to gain sympathy or consolation.
cry over spilled milk
To regret in vain what cannot be undone or rectified.
cry wolf
To raise a false alarm.
for crying out loud
Used to express annoyance or astonishment: Let's get going, for crying out loud!
in full cry
In hot pursuit, as hounds hunting.

[Middle English crien, from Old French crier, from Vulgar Latin *critāre, from Latin quirītāre, to cry out, perhaps from Quirītēs, public officers to whom one would cry out in times of need.]

Synonyms: cry, weep, wail, bawl, keen2, sob, blubber1
These verbs mean to express strong emotion, such as grief, misery, or pain, by shedding tears or making inarticulate sounds. Cry and weep both involve the shedding of tears: "She cried without trying to suppress any of the noisier manifestations of grief and confusion" (J. D. Salinger). "I weep for what I'm like when I'm alone" (Theodore Roethke).
Wail and bawl refer to loud sustained utterance, as in grief, misery, or fear: "The women ... began to wail together; they mourned with shrill cries" (Joseph Conrad). "Her voice was always hoarse. Her Dad said this was because she had bawled so much when she was a baby" (Carson McCullers).
Keen refers more specifically to wailing and lamentation for the dead: "It is the wild Irish women keening over their dead" (George A. Lawrence).
Sob describes weeping or a mixture of broken speech and weeping marked by convulsive breathing or gasping: "sobbing and crying, and wringing her hands as if her heart would break" (Laurence Sterne).
Blubber refers to noisy shedding of tears accompanied by broken or inarticulate speech: "When he drew out what had been a fiddle, crushed to morsels in the greatcoat, he blubbered aloud" (Emily Brontë).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.