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raise havoc

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see play havoc.

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

VOCAB BUILDER

What does raise havoc mean?

To raise 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. In raise havoc, the word raise means to bring about or cause.

The phrases wreak havoc and play havoc mean the same thing as raise havoc.

Havoc is associated with seriously destructive and chaotic situations, such as natural disasters, as in The hurricane raised havoc throughout the region. But it can be used in a range of situations. An illness can raise havoc on your body. A virus can raise havoc in a computer network. The wind can raise havoc on your hair. In most cases, to raise 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 raised havoc on the morning commute, causing traffic jams and delays for miles around.

Where does raise havoc come from?

The phrase raise 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 raising havoc. Unlike wreak havoc and play havoc, which are synonyms of raise havoc, the phrase cry havoc means “to sound the alarm” (typically as a warning when something destructive is about to happen).

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for raise havoc?

What are some words that share a root or word element with raise havoc

What are some words that often get used in discussing raise havoc?

How is raise havoc used in real life?

Raise 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 more commonly used.

 

Try using raise havoc!

Which of the following terms is NOT a synonym of raise havoc?

A. play havoc
B. wreak havoc
C. cry havoc
D. disrupt

How to use raise havoc in a sentence

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