cry wolf

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cry wolf

To claim that something is happening when it really isn't, which results in the rejection of subsequent valid claims. The expression comes from one of Aesop's fables, in which a young shepherd lies about a wolf threatening his flock so many times that people do not believe him when he and his flock are legitimately in danger. I'm sure there's no real crisis—Janet is always crying wolf so that we'll do her work for her.
See also: cry, wolf
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

cry wolf

Fig. to cry or complain about something when nothing is really wrong. (From the story wherein a child sounds the alarm frequently about a wolf when there is no wolf, only to be ignored when there actually is a wolf.) Pay no attention. She's just crying wolf again. Don't cry wolf too often. No one will come.
See also: cry, wolf
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

cry wolf

Raise a false alarm, as in Helen's always crying wolf about attempted break-ins, but the police can never find any evidence . This term comes from the tale about a young shepherd watching his flock who, lonely and fearful, called for help by shouting "Wolf!" After people came to his aid several times and saw no wolf, they ignored his cries when a wolf actually attacked his sheep. The tale appeared in a translation of Aesop's fables by Roger L'Estrange (1692), and the expression has been applied to any false alarm since the mid-1800s.
See also: cry, wolf
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

cry wolf

COMMON If someone cries wolf, they claim that they are in danger or trouble when they are not, so that when they really are in danger or trouble and ask for help, no one believes them or helps them. Tom was just crying wolf. He wanted attention. Farmers have cried wolf in the past but this time, the industry really is at crisis point.
See also: cry, wolf
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

cry wolf

call for help when it is not needed; raise a false alarm.
An old fable tells the tale of a shepherd boy who constantly raised false alarms with cries of ‘Wolf!’, until people no longer took any notice of him. When a wolf did actually appear and attack him, his genuine cries for help were ignored and no one came to his aid.
See also: cry, wolf
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

cry ˈwolf

repeatedly say there is danger, etc. when there is none, or ask for help when there is no need (with the result that people do not think you are telling the truth when there is real danger or when you really need help): Is the economic future really so bad? Or are the economists just crying wolf?This refers to the traditional story of the shepherd boy who shouted ‘Wolf!’ just to frighten people, so that when a wolf did come, nobody went to help him.
See also: cry, wolf
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

cry wolf

To raise a false alarm.
See also: cry, wolf
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

cry wolf, to

To give a false alarm. The term comes from an ancient tale about a shepherd lad watching his flock on a far-off hillside. Lonely and fearful, he called for help by crying out, “Wolf!” After people had responded to his cries several times and found no wolf had threatened him, they refused to come to his aid when a wolf finally did attack his sheep. It soon was transferred to all such false alarms, and was already a cliché by the time R. D. Blackmore wrote about the French invasion, “The cry of wolf grows stale at last, and then the real danger comes” (Springhaven, 1887).
See also: cry
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer

cry wolf

To raise a false alarm, to ask for assistance when you don't need it, and by extension, to exaggerate or lie. The phrase comes from the Aesop fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” in which a young shepherd found it amusing to make villagers think a wolf is attacking his flock. When they came to his rescue, they learned of the false alarm. However, when a wolf actually menaced the flock, the villagers disregarded the shepherd's calls for help, and the wolf ate the flock (and in some versions the boy). The moral: “Even when liars tell the truth, they are never believed."
See also: cry, wolf
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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References in periodicals archive ?
The Boy Who Cried Wolf runs at the LBT until December 28 with shows at several times of the day.
Doing a bleatingly good impression of sheep are the three-strong cast of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, |from left, grandfather (Simon Spencer-Hyde), Silas (Barney Cooper) and mother (Selina Zaza)
Hairy Maclary and Friends, above, will be at Middlesbrough Theatre, and The Boy Who Cried Wolf, below, is taking to ARC's stage in Stockton next week
A former teacher and actor, he says The Boy Who Cried Wolf showcases the many talents of tutti frutti's performers.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf is directed by Wendy Harris, who has an extensive background in youth theatre, and will run until December 28.
"We cried wolf on enforcement, but the principal cause is driver behaviour."
The Gingerbread Man, The Sorcerer's Apprentice and The Boy Who Cried Wolf are all stories that families will know and will enjoy getting re-acquainted with.
First there's that Boy Who Cried Wolf (November 30) plus this year's Christmas show, Rapunzel.
Should we take these reports seriously or dismiss them as cries of attention-hungry boy who cried wolf but ended up being killed by the wolf when villagers would no longer respond to his distress calls?
Children's classic The Boy Who Cried Wolf has never been read to almost one in three children, says Rory's Story Cubes Hans Christian Anderson's stories such as The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina and The Princess and the Pea also made the list of tales that are no longer told to many children.
Bank of England chief crying wolf WE obviously got a bargain when we made Mark Carney the Governor of the Bank of England; not only is he a superb snake-oil salesman, a perfect stand-in for Mystic Meg and/or Senna (Up Pompeii's Soothsayer), and an ideal leader writer for Old Moore's Almanac, a grown-up (well almost) version of the boy who cried wolf, he is also able (with his tarot cards and crystal ball) to predict the state of our dynamic economy to within 0.1 per cent in twenty, thirty or forty years' time (years when he is relaxing somewhere enjoying his big fat, inflation proof pension)!
PACE bowler Mark Wood has said allegations of corruption against unnamed England players are "like the boy who cried wolf".
Anyone, my age would remember the popular story of 'The boy who cried wolf.' The tale goes like this.
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon was also likened to the boy who cried wolf.
Gertrude and Toby Meet the Wolf is a children's picturebook with a unique twist on the classic fairytales of "The Three Little Pigs" and "The Boy Who Cried Wolf".