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The verb is from Middle English crien (13th century), from Old French crier (to announce publicly, proclaim, scream, shout) (whence Medieval Latin crīdō (to cry out, shout, publish, proclaim)). The noun is from Middle English crie, from Old French cri, crïee.

The origin of the Old French (and Middle Latin) word is uncertain, if Germanic, it is from Frankish *krītan (to cry, cry out, publish), from Proto-Germanic *krītaną (to cry out, shout), from Proto-Indo-European *greyd- (to shout). Cognate with Saterland Frisian kriete (to cry), Dutch krijten (to cry) and krijsen (to shriek), German Low German krieten (to cry, call out, shriek), German kreißen (to cry loudly, wail, groan), Gothic 𐌺𐍂𐌴𐌹𐍄𐌰𐌽 (kreitan, to cry, scream, call out), further Indo-European cognates: Latin gingrītus (the cackling of geese), Middle Irish grith (a cry), Welsh gryd (a scream), Persian گریه(gerye, to cry), Sanskrit क्रन्दन (krandana, cry, lamentation).

An alternate etymology connects the Medieval Latin word to quiritō (to wail, shriek). This is itself of uncertain origin, perhaps from Latin queror (to complain) through the form, though the phonetic and semantic developments are difficult to trace; alternatively, a variant of quirritare (to squeal like a pig), from *quis, an onomatopoeic rendition of squeaking. An ancient folk etymology understood it as "to call for the help of the Quirites," the Roman constabulary.



cry (third-person singular simple present cries, present participle crying, simple past and past participle cried)

a woman crying (1)
  1. (intransitive) To shed tears; to weep.
    That sad movie always makes me cry.
    • 2003, Sonic Team, Sonic Battle, Sega, published 2003, Game Boy Advance, level/area: Cream’s Story:
      - Emerl: “There’s nothing worse than making a girl cry!” That’s what Sonic said...
  2. (transitive) To utter loudly; to call out; to declare publicly.
  3. (transitive, intransitive) To shout, scream, yell.
  4. (intransitive) To utter inarticulate sounds, as animals do.
  5. (transitive) To cause to do something, or bring to some state, by crying or weeping.
    Tonight I’ll cry myself to sleep.
  6. To make oral and public proclamation of; to notify or advertise by outcry, especially things lost or found, goods to be sold, auctioned, etc.
    to cry goods
    • 1652, Richard Crashaw, The Beginning of Heliodorus
      Love is lost, and thus she cries him.
    • 1966, Thomas Pynchon, chapter 6, in The Crying of Lot 49, New York: Bantam Books, published 1976, →ISBN, page 137:
      “We're in luck. Loren Passerine, the finest auctioneer in the West, will be crying today.” “Will be what?” “We say an auctioneer ‘cries’ a sale,” Cohen said.
  7. Hence, to publish the banns of, as for marriage.
    • 1845, Sylvester Judd, Margaret: A Tale of the Real and the Ideal, Blight and Bloom; Including Sketches of a Place Not Before Described, Called Mons Christi
      I should not be surprised if they were cried in church next Sabbath.




Derived termsEdit

Terms derived from cry (verb)



cry (plural cries)

  1. A shedding of tears; the act of crying.
    After we broke up, I retreated to my room for a good cry.
  2. A shout or scream.
    I heard a cry from afar.
  3. Words shouted or screamed.
    a battle cry
  4. A clamour or outcry.
    • 1812, Alexander Chalmers, The General Biographical Dictionary:
      His pupil, Maimonides, that he might not be under the necessity of violating the laws of friendship and gratitude, by joining the general cry against Averroes, left Corduba.
  5. (collectively) A group of hounds.
    • c. 1595–1596, William Shakespeare, “A Midsommer Nights Dreame”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene i]:
      A cry more tunable / Was never hollaed to, nor cheered with horn.
    • 1667, Milton, Paradise Lost, Book II, in Edward Hawkins, The Poetical Works of John Milton: With Notes of Various Authors, Vol. I, W. Baxter, J. Parker, G. B. Whittaker (publs., 1824) pages 124 to 126, lines 648 to 659.
      [] Before the gates there sat / On either side a formidable shape; / The one seem’d woman to the waste, and fair, / But ended foul in many a scaly fold / Voluminous and vast, a serpent arm’d / With mortal sting: about her middle round / A cry of hell-hounds never ceasing bark’d / With wide Cerberean mouths full loud and rung / A hideous peal; yet, when they list,would creep, / If ought disturb'd their noise, into her womb, / and kennel there, yet there still bark’d and howl’d, / Within unseen. []
  6. (by extension, obsolete, derogatory) A pack or company of people.
  7. (of an animal) A typical sound made by the species in question.
    "Woof" is the cry of a dog, while "neigh" is the cry of a horse.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 86:
      But the shrill wild cry of the heron overpowered the cries of all the other birds, whom it seemed to terrify; they were silent the moment they heard it, and a silence followed which made the interruption doubly unpleasant.
  8. A desperate or urgent request.
  9. (obsolete) Common report; gossip.

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See alsoEdit



Middle FrenchEdit


From Old French cri.


cry m (plural crys)

  1. cry; shout


  • French: cri



Middle English, from Old French crier.


cry (third-person singular simple present cries, present participle cryin, simple past cried, past participle cried)

  1. to call, to give a name to
    • A body whit studies the history is cried a historian an aw.