Definition of cry in English:

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Pronunciation: /krī/

verb (cries, crying, cried)

[no object]
1Shed tears, especially as an expression of distress or pain: don’t cry—it’ll be all right [with object]: you’ll cry tears of joy
More example sentences
  • Woman were crying with tears of joy as men swung their children around before giving them a smothering bear hug.
  • Now as he sat in his chair thinking about his oldest daughter, he remembered that not even in the hospital did she cry - not one tear was shed.
  • It was considered good to cry so tears were frequently shed in public by both men and women.
2Shout or scream, especially to express one’s fear, pain, or grief: the little girl fell down and cried for her mommy
More example sentences
  • She cringed as the light moved closer and bit her lip to keep from crying out in fear.
  • Abby went sprawling a few feet away, landing hard and crying out in pain and fear.
  • Their mouths were gagged to prevent them from screaming or crying out, and the girl had tears down her face.
call, shout, exclaim, sing out, yell, shriek, scream, screech, bawl, bellow, roar, vociferate, squeal, yelp, holler
dated ejaculate
2.1Say something in an excited or anguished tone of voice: “Where will it end?” he cried out
More example sentences
  • Feet could be heard pounding down the steps to his quarters and a voice cried out, ‘Maurice!’
  • Suddenly a voice cried out to her in this manner: Get up quickly!
  • And saying this he cried out with a great voice: Lazarus, come out here.
2.2 [with object] (Of a street trader) shout out the name of (goods for sale): there was a bustle of activity as vendors cried their wares, offering shellfish to potential buyers
More example sentences
  • In the little trading towns, the traders sat in their shops, far too weary to cry their wares.
  • Merchants were crying out their wares in the morning air, each straining to make their voices heard over the music and laughter.
  • Store owners and merchants were crying out their wares or conducting business.
3(Of a bird or other animal) make a loud characteristic call: the wild birds cried out over the water
More example sentences
  • The bird cried out, thrashing its wings.
  • The bird cried out and thunder echoed back from the sky.
  • One day, a resident chimp cried out, signaling that snakes were present.

noun (plural cries)

1A loud inarticulate shout or scream expressing a powerful feeling or emotion: a cry of despair
More example sentences
  • Shouts and cries and screams filled the room, creating a wave of noise that crashed down on James' ears, leaving him feeling numb and deaf.
  • Back at the airport, there were screams and shrieks, cries and prayers as others witnessed the crash.
  • Instead of using music, the scenes are accompanied by real sound: incomprehensible murmuring, shouts and cries.
1.1A loud excited utterance of a word or words: there was a cry of “Silence!”
More example sentences
  • Impassioned cries of: ‘We will shed blood to save the Datta Peetha’ were raised.
  • It was like you see in the films - you hear the whistle and the bang, there's a cry of ‘incoming’ and everybody gets down on the ground.
  • It's the hub of village life and when you go there at night, expect some of the elderly worse-for-wear locals to greet you with cries of ‘Hello, my brother’ when they discover you're Irish.
1.2The call of a street trader selling goods: the city comes to life after 10 p.m., with the din of car horns, and the cries of street hawkers
More example sentences
  • In the weavers' cottage, weavers would be hard at work, and the streets thronged with people, where visitors would hear the cries of street traders selling their wares.
  • Despite the lights and the trains and the noise, it is quite easy to imagine the cries of the hawkers in a different age.
  • Visitors are battered by a cacophony of cries by hawkers trying to flog a variety of the ubiquitous plastic trinkets and squeaking toys.
1.3An urgent appeal or entreaty: fund-raisers have issued a cry for help
More example sentences
  • Newrbidge primary schools have issued an urgent cry for help as the schools crisis in the town deepens.
  • The club who has issued a cry for help says it will disband within the next three weeks, unless immediate support from parents and supporters comes forward.
  • Football-supporting MPs have issued a rallying cry for ‘all associated’ with the game to pull together and save York City.
appeal, plea, entreaty, cry from the heart, cri de cœur
1.4A demand or opinion expressed by many people: peace became the popular cry
More example sentences
  • Soon, international opinion took up the cry and the authorities reacted quickly.
  • The match also almost certainly ended the cry from fans demanding a return to Sunday action.
  • The most frequent cry is to demand the whereabouts of the powerful foreign reporting that they remember from the 1960s.
2A distinctive call of a bird or other animal.
Example sentences
  • Imagining their hoots to be the cry of some dangerous animal, she had spent nearly two terrified days on the run from her rescuers.
  • The cries of topical birds and animals could be heard very clearly in the night air.
  • Whistles and cries came from the birds as they continued forward.
3A spell of weeping: I still have a cry, sometimes, when I realize that my mother is dead
More example sentences
  • He took an awful long time coming back, because he had to keep stopping to have a cry!
  • I have a cry while I slice the onions.
  • I put my arms down on the computer desk, and leaned my head down on them to have a cry.
sob, weep, crying fit, crying jag;
technical  vagitus



cry one's eyes (or heart) out

Weep bitterly and at length.
Example sentences
  • I thrown myself into Chloe's bed, hugging her doll tight, crying my heart out with bitterness.
  • You spend your days and nights crying your eyes out.
  • The relatives of the victims were crying their eyes out too.

cry for the moon

Ask for what is unattainable or impossible.
Example sentences
  • If she cried for the moon, he'd borrow every ladder in the parish and lash 'em together to get up.
  • When my brother was a baby, he cried for the moon and would not be comforted.
  • When the baby cries for the moon, you do not give him what he wants.

cry foul

Protest strongly about a real or imagined wrong or injustice.
Example sentences
  • But the opposition cried foul, accusing the government of manipulating the votes.
  • Political parties have cried foul at the king's move, calling it an unconstitutional and undemocratic step.
  • Protest and counter-protest occurred, with the Germans crying foul and furiously questioning the rules.

cry from the heart

A passionate and honest appeal or protest.
Example sentences
  • It will be a cry from the heart as much as a plea to open the wallet.
  • This is my cry from the heart on Australia Day, for right now, I am concerned that we are seeking to squash the hopes of people who need it most - desperate people heading for Australia, an island of hope.
  • It's actually a cry from the heart for the Labor Party as a whole to gather its resources, its intelligence, its energy and it's passion.

cry it out

Weep until one is soothed or exhausted: he broke your heart—cry it out, girl at 18-24 months, we did have to let our son cry it out a little
More example sentences
  • Good thing his BFF was there to let his boy Jonathan cry it out on his sunburned shoulders.
  • There's nothing right about allowing a 5 month old to cry it out in order for him to sleep on his own.
  • Children have been crying it out for generations.
(cry-it-out)5.1 Denoting a method of sleep training in which a young child is left to fall asleep on their own and not immediately comforted when they cry: she created developmentally appropriate strategies to help parents thrive without resorting to cry-it-out sleep training
More example sentences
  • Parents have been doing cry-it-out for generations, usually with no long-term damage.
  • I thought that I wouldn't be able to do it because "sleep training" in the cry-it-out sense sounded incredibly harsh to me.
  • All of you who are saying that cry-it-out is emotionally harmful, could you cite your peer-reviewed studies on the subject?

cry wolf

see wolf.

for crying out loud

informal Used to express one’s irritation or impatience: why do you have to take everything so personally, for crying out loud?
More example sentences
  • So for crying out loud, turn down the microphone level!
  • I would say If you're going to write stories about your teachers at least make them unrecognizable, for crying out loud!
  • How hard is it to rinse the plate and place it in the dishwasher for crying out loud?

in full cry

Used to describe hounds baying in keen pursuit.
Example sentences
  • The women then set off like a pack of hounds in full cry after this cockerel.
  • A stream of hounds flow in full cry across the field, the huntsman, Richard Emmott, on foot behind.
  • She explained: ‘The pleasure I get from hunting is derived from seeing and hearing the pack in full cry, following the fox's scent.’

it's no use crying over spilt (or spilled) milk

see milk.

Phrasal verbs


cry someone/something down

dated Disparage or belittle someone or something.
Example sentences
  • This is not a question of Labor crying stinking fish or being worried about the result or whatever.
  • If the examples aren't forthcoming, then maybe his criticism is cheating, by crying stinking fish with nary a fishbone or cacase in sight.
  • The companies involved are not going to cry stinking fish for sell.

cry off

informal Go back on a promise or fail to keep to an arrangement: we were going to Spain together and he cried off at the last moment
More example sentences
  • But history shows that he cried off at half-time having pulled a stomach muscle.
  • Wicklow also had their problems when David Moran failed a fitness test while Michael O'Brien also cried off through injury.
  • It was only going to be a flying visit, but Jon and Trevor (and Paul, too, in the end, who had been on the verge of crying off on account of illness, so it's a good job I bought extra cakes) stayed for a couple of hours.

cry out for

Demand as a self-evident requirement or solution: the present system cries out for reform
More example sentences
  • They cry out for solutions that, like the problems themselves, also cross frontiers.
  • It's a deeply unsatisfactory system, and one which cries out for reform - though not in the direction desired by the free marketeers.
  • This country is still crying out for an effective political system that responds to them and listens to the people.

cry someone/something up

dated Praise or extol someone or something.


Middle English (in the sense 'ask for earnestly or loudly'): from Old French crier (verb), cri (noun), from Latin quiritare 'raise a public outcry', literally 'call on the Quirites (Roman citizens) for help'.

  • The word cry is first recorded with the meanings ‘ask for earnestly’, ‘ask for loudly’. It comes via French from Latin quiritare ‘raise a public outcry’, literally ‘call on the Quirites (Roman citizens) for help’. Early examples of cry centre around sound—sometimes in sorrow or distress. The association with tears is recorded from around the mid 16th century. Decry (early 17th century) originally had the sense ‘decrease the value of coins by royal proclamation’.

Words that rhyme with cry

ally, Altai, apply, assai, awry, ay, aye, Baha'i, belie, bi, Bligh, buy, by, bye, bye-bye, chi, Chiangmai, Ciskei, comply, Cy, Dai, defy, deny, Di, die, do-or-die, dry, Dubai, dye, espy, eye, fie, fly, forbye, fry, Frye, goodbye (US goodby), guy, hereby, hi, hie, high, I, imply, I-spy, July, kai, lie, lye, Mackay, misapply, my, nearby, nigh, Nye, outfly, passer-by, phi, pi, pie, ply, pry, psi, Qinghai, rai, rely, rocaille, rye, scry, serai, shanghai, shy, sigh, sky, Skye, sky-high, sly, spin-dry, spry, spy, sty, Sukhotai, supply, Tai, Thai, thereby, thigh, thy, tie, Transkei, try, tumble-dry, underlie, Versailles, Vi, vie, whereby, why, wry, Wye, xi, Xingtai, Yantai

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cry

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