Also, raise or wreak havoc. Disrupt, damage, or destroy something, as in The wind played havoc with her hair, or The fire alarm raised havoc with the children, or The earthquake wrought havoc in the town. The noun havoc was once used as a command for invaders to begin looting and killing, but by the 1800s the term was being used for somewhat less aggressive activities. For a synonym, see play the devil with.
Words nearby play havoc
MORE ABOUT PLAY HAVOC
What does play havoc mean?
To play havoc is to cause chaos or destruction or both.
Havoc means chaos, disorder, or confusion. It can also mean destruction, damage, or ruin. In many cases, it refers to a combination of these things. The verb play in the phrase isn’t used in any of the ways that usually is. In play havoc, play basically means to inflict or cause.
Havoc is associated with seriously destructive and chaotic situations, such as natural disasters, as in The hurricane played havoc throughout the region. But it can be used in a range of situations. An illness can play havoc on your body. A virus can play havoc in a computer network. The wind can play havoc on your hair. In most cases, to play havoc is to disrupt a situation that was (at least somewhat) orderly by making it become disorderly, especially when there is damage or destruction involved.
Example: A major accident on the highway has played havoc on the morning commute, causing traffic jams and delays for miles around.
Where does play havoc come from?
The phrase play havoc has been used since at least the 1800s. The word havoc comes from the Old French havot, meaning “to pillage” (to violently loot and plunder a place, especially during a war). In Anglo-French, the spelling havok was used in the phrase crier havok, meaning “to cry havoc.” This refers to the practice of a military commander shouting “Havoc!” as a command to start pillaging.
Today, havoc is no longer closely associated with pillaging, but an invading army pillaging and causing chaos and destruction is a perfect example of playing havoc. Unlike wreak havoc and raise havoc, which are synonyms of play havoc, the phrase cry havoc means “to sound the alarm” (typically as a warning when something destructive is about to happen).
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What are some synonyms for play havoc?
What are some words that share a root or word element with play havoc?
What are some words that often get used in discussing play havoc?
How is play havoc used in real life?
Play havoc is used in the context of situations that involve chaos, destruction, and often both. The phrase wreak havoc means the same thing and is probably more commonly used, especially in the U.S.
COVID-19 has played havoc with many people’s careers, but it may have been especially detrimental to women. Here are 5 steps to rethinking your own story! #30Seconds @simonandi #coronavirus #pandemic #women #strongwomen #mindfulness https://t.co/DXAPj5Qtwz
— 30Seconds (@30seconds) October 28, 2020
— The Age Sport (@theagesport) October 26, 2020
Some of my best childhood memories was growing up in Haringey.
I went to a primary school off Bounds Green Road, so walking distance for me and my family. However, the subsequent pollution from that road played havoc with my asthma.
— Nathan Ashley (@NathanAshleyLDN) October 25, 2020
Try using play havoc!
Which of the following terms is NOT a synonym of play havoc?
A. wreak havoc
B. raise havoc
C. cry havoc
How to use play havoc in a sentence
Have there been discussions with FX regarding an Archer movie, and how do you think that would play out?‘Archer’ Creator Adam Reed Spills Season 6 Secrets, From Surreal Plotlines to Life Post-ISIS|Marlow Stern|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Father Joel Román Salazar died in a car crash in 2013; his death was ruled an accident, but the suspicion of foul play persists.
He plays an aging punk rocker and I play the drummer from his old band.Coffee Talk with Fred Armisen: On ‘Portlandia,’ Meeting Obama, and Taylor Swift’s Greatness|Marlow Stern|January 7, 2015|DAILY BEAST
When fathers hold and play with their children, oxytocin and prolactin kick in, priming them for bonding.
Ironically, the play deals with the ‘management’ of information by the Establishment.Harry’s Daddy, and Diana’s ‘Murder’: Royal Rumors In a New Play|Tom Sykes|January 4, 2015|DAILY BEAST
I assure you, no matter how beautifully we play any piece, the minute Liszt plays it, you would scarcely recognize it!
But I hope at least to play to him a few times, and what is more important, to hear him play repeatedly.
To fill up the time till Liszt came, our hostess made us play, one after the other, beginning with the latest arrival.
Again the sallow fingers began to play with the book-covers, passing from one to another, but always slowly and gently.Bella Donna|Robert Hichens
Her attachment to impressionism leads this artist to many experiments in color—or, as one critic wrote, "to play with color."Women in the fine arts, from the Seventh Century B.C. to the Twentieth Century A.D.|Clara Erskine Clement