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From the Anglo-Norman legal phrase hu e cri.


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hue and cry (usually uncountable, plural hue and cries or hues and cries)

  1. (historical) The public pursuit of a criminal, accompanied by shouts to warn others to give chase.
    • 1797, Richard Burn, John Burn (corrections and updates), The Justice of the Peace, and Parish Officer, Volume II, 18th Edition, page 753:
      Because he that firſt raiſeth a hue and cry, where no felony is committed, that is, he who giveth the falſe information, is ſeverely puniſhable by fine and impriſonment, if the information be falſe.
    • 1809, William Nicholson, “HUE and CRY”, in The British Encyclopedia, or Dictionary of Arts and Sciences; [], volume III (E … I), London: Printed by C[harles] Whittingham, []; for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, [], OCLC 978021632, column 1:
      For the levying of hue and cry, although it is a good course to have a justice's warrant, where time will permit, in order to prevent causeless hue and cry; yet it is not necessary, nor always convenient; for the felon may escape before the warrant be obtained.
    • 1846, Matthew Bacon, Sir Henry Gwilliam, Charles Edward Dodd, John Bouvier, A New Abridgment of the Law with Large Additions and Corrections, Volume 4, page 693:
      That in case of a hue and cry once raised and levied upon supposal of a felony committed, though in truth there was no felony committed; yet those, who pursue hue and cry, may arrest and proceed as if a felony had been really committed.
  2. (by extension) A loud and persistent public clamour, especially one associated with protest or the making of some demand.
    • 1955, Caryl Chessman, Trial by Ordeal, quoted in 1956 September, Walter P. Armstrong, Jr, book review, American Bar Association Journal, page 854:
      And because I haven't written off easily, a great hue and cry has gone up that there is something wrong with our whole system of administering justice.