From the Anglo-Norman phrase crier havok (“cry havoc”) a signal to soldiers to seize plunder, from Old French crier (“cry out, shout”) + havot (“pillaging, looting”).
- (obsolete) To shout out 'Havoc!'; that is, to give an army the order to plunder.
- 1599, Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war — Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
- 1608, Do not cry havoc, where you should but hunt— Shakespeare, Coriolanus
1961 Aug, George Steiner, “Homer and the Scholars”, in The Atlantic Monthly, page 77:
- War and mortality cry havoc, yet the center holds. That center is the affirmation that actions of body and heroic spirit are in themselves a thing of beauty, that renown shall outweigh the passing terrors of death, and that no catastrophe, not even the fall of Troy, is final.