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.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
How to use play havoc in a sentence
Official motorcades will no longer play havoc with traffic as road closures are minimized.
He arrives at the beaver-lodges, and, I warrant, will soon play havoc among the inmates.Hudson Bay | R.M. Ballantyne
All is clear ahead, for if any of those ugly seas were to break on board, it might play havoc with the barky.Sunshine Bill | W H G Kingston
While the advance of time was affecting Bettesworth himself, another influence had begun to play havoc with his environment.Memoirs of a Surrey Labourer | George Sturt (AKA George Bourne)
No sooner is she gone than the statues come to life, sing, dance, jump and play havoc in general.How Girls Can Help Their Country | Juliette Low
These difficulties, when they are deeply rooted, and especially when they are unrecognized, play havoc in marital adjustment.The Good Housekeeping Marriage Book | Various