cry wolf

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cry wolf

To claim that something is happening when it really isn't, which results in subsequent valid claims being rejected. 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

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

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

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

cry wolf

To raise a false alarm.
See also: cry, wolf

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