cry (v.)

mid-13c., "yell (something) out, utter" (transitive); c. 1300, "beg, implore; speak earnestly and loudly; advertise by calling out," from Old French crier, from Vulgar Latin *critare, from Latin quiritare "to wail, shriek" (source of Italian gridare, Old Spanish cridar, Spanish and Portuguese gritar), which is of uncertain origin.

Perhaps it is a variant of quirritare "to squeal like a pig," from *quis, echoic of squealing. Ancient folk etymology explained it as "to call for the help of the Quirites," the Roman constabulary.

The meaning was extended 13c. to the sense "shed tears" that had formerly been in weep, which it largely replaced by 16c., via the notion of "utter a loud, vehement, inarticulate sound." To cry (one's) eyes out "weep inordinately" is by 1704.

Most languages, in common with English, use the general word for "cry out, shout, wail" to also mean "weep, shed tears to express pain or grief." Romance and Slavic, however, use words for this whose ultimate meaning is "beat (the breast)," compare French pleurer, Spanish llorar, both from Latin plorare "cry aloud," but probably originally plodere "beat, clap the hands." Also Italian piangere (cognate with French plaindre "lament, pity") from Latin plangere, originally "beat," but especially of the breast, as a sign of grief. Related: Cried; crying

cry (n.)

late 13c., "an announcement, proclamation;" c. 1300, "any loud or passionate utterance; any loud or inarticulate sound from a human or beast," also "entreaty, prayer," from cry (v.). By 1852 as "a fit of weeping;" from 1540s as "word or phrase used in battle." From 1530s as "the yelping of hounds in the chase."

The notion in far cry "a great distance, a long way" seems to be "calling distance;" compare out of cry "out of calling distance" (mid-14c.); within cry of "within calling distance" (1630s). Far cry itself seems to have been a Scottish phrase popularized by Scott ("Rob Roy," 1817), which notes that "The expression of a 'far cry to Lochow,' was proverbial."

updated on May 31, 2018