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havoc

[hav-uh k]
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noun
  1. great destruction or devastation; ruinous damage.
verb (used with object), hav·ocked, hav·ock·ing.
  1. to work havoc upon; devastate.
verb (used without object), hav·ocked, hav·ock·ing.
  1. to work havoc: The fire havocked throughout the house.
Idioms
  1. cry havoc, to warn of danger or disaster.
  2. play havoc with,
    1. to create confusion or disorder in: The wind played havoc with the papers on the desk.
    2. to destroy; ruin: The bad weather played havoc with our vacation plans.

Origin of havoc

1400–50; late Middle English havok < Anglo-French (in phrase crier havok to cry havoc, i.e., utter the command havoc! as signal for pillaging), Middle French havot in same sense < Germanic
Related formshav·ock·er, noun

Synonyms

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1. desolation, waste. See ruin.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for havoc

havoc

noun
  1. destruction; devastation; ruin
  2. informal confusion; chaos
  3. cry havoc archaic to give the signal for pillage and destruction
  4. play havoc (often foll by with) to cause a great deal of damage, distress, or confusion (to)
verb -ocs, -ocking or -ocked
  1. (tr) archaic to lay waste

Word Origin

C15: from Old French havot pillage, probably of Germanic origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for havoc

n.

early 15c., from Anglo-French havok in phrase crier havok "cry havoc" (late 14c.), a signal to soldiers to seize plunder, from Old French havot "pillaging, looting," related to haver "to seize, grasp," hef "hook," probably from a Germanic source (see hawk (n.)), or from Latin habere "to have, possess." General sense of "devastation" first recorded late 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with havoc

havoc

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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