cry wolf


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

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

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

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

cry wolf

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

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

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
References in periodicals archive ?
Whether engulfed by mosquitoes or chasing down a herd of caribou with a homemade spear (one of many sequences that summon echoes of "Never Cry Wolf"), Pepper renders Charlie's comic anger with aplomb.
Although I am optimistic that we can still avoid the worst-case scenarios, the time to cry wolf is here.
Bawdy, irreverent, bizarre and very funny, Cry Wolf is riotous entertainment not to miss.
Cry Wolf, Newcastle Playhouse, until Saturday - This has to be one of the funniest, daftest, slickest shows of the year.
Fortunately, bringing with them the irrepressible Kneehigh Theatre and the infectiously funky music of the Baghdaddies, with their latest production, Cry Wolf.
Equally, workers must acknowledge they also have a responsibility not to place themselves in potentially stressful situations, or cry wolf at the first opportunity.
Other productions include Cry Wolf! from Kneehigh Theatre and The Baghdaddies band and Romeo And Juliet from English Touring Theatre.
In contrast, the Beeb's new offering, Cry Wolf, missed the mark.
Stephen Bett, chairman of the police authority, said: "It could lead to a 'cry wolf' situation."
Viewing figures for Cry Wolf, set in a London GP surgery, fell from 7.6 million to 1.3 million from its first episode on March 6 to the end of its run.
School students find themselves preyed on by a killer in Cry Wolf. Jake Gyllenhaal goes from gay cowboy to soldier in Gulf War drama Jarhead (right).