Cry wolf


      • raise a false alarm
        To falsely or repeatedly claim that something is wrong or dangerous in order to get attention or help, causing others to become skeptical or indifferent to genuine emergencies

      • warn without being believed
        To make a genuine warning or plea for help, but not be taken seriously or believed due to past dishonesty or exaggeration

    Examples of Cry wolf

    • Tom kept crying wolf every time he saw a coyote in the park, but no actual wolves appeared. The other park-goers became skeptical of his warnings and stopped listening.

      The idiom "cry wolf" means to falsely claim that there is danger or a problem when there is not really one. In this example, Tom is repeatedly making false alarms about wolves when there are only coyotes, leading others to ignore him.

    • Sarah's co-workers grew tired of her constant complaints about small issues, saying that she was crying wolf and that they couldn't take her seriously anymore.

      The idiom "cry wolf" can also apply to exaggerating or overreacting to minor problems. Here, Sarah's colleagues have lost trust in her because they feel that her complaints are not legitimate or urgent.

    • The news outlet was accused of crying wolf by its critics, who claimed that it was sensationalizing stories and blowing them out of proportion in order to increase ratings.

      In this example, the criticism that a news organization is "crying wolf" suggests that it is exaggerating the severity or newsworthiness of a story in order to attract attention or viewers.

    • Emily was skeptical when her friend warned her about a scam email, thinking that she was crying wolf. But the email turned out to be a phishing attempt, and Emily was grateful that her friend had warned her.

      The idiom "cry wolf" can also be used when someone is initially dismissed as being overly cautious or suspicious, but later proved to be right. Here, Emily's friend's warning was initially dismissed as an unnecessary alarm, but turned out to be accurate.

    • John kept crying "Fire!" in the movie theater, even though there was no actual fire. This excessive use of the phrase "Fire!" became an example of crying wolf, as people began to disregard his warnings and thought he was just trying to create a scene.

      The expression "cry wolf" refers to a situation where someone repeatedly cries out, warning of danger or a problem, when there is no actual danger or problem present. This action can cause others to disbelieve or ignore future warnings from that person, similar to how the boy in Aesop's fable cried "Wolf!" so many times that the villagers stopped believing him.

    • The Senator's constant warnings about an upcoming terrorist attack were dismissed by many as merely crying wolf, as there had been no such attacks in the area for years.

      The second example shows how the phrase "cry wolf" can be applied to political or social situations, where exaggerated or false warnings about impending danger can lead to a loss of credibility for the person making the warnings.

    • The boss's repeated claims of impending layoffs and office shutdowns caused a sense of dread and panic among his employees, who began to question whether he was merely crying wolf in an attempt to gain control over them.

      The third example illustrates the way the expression "cry wolf" can describe a situation where someone's warnings are perceived as overly dramatic or dishonest, potentially undermining their authority or authority figure in the situation, making people doubt and lose trust because of that undermining. In general, the expression "cry wolf" highlights the importance of accuracy and truthfulness in presenting warnings or dangers, as excessive or unfounded warnings can lead to disbelief and mistrust, making it exceedingly challenging to be taken seriously in the future.

    • John's constant warnings of a fire in the building have become a joke among his coworkers. They roll their eyes and say, "John's at it again, crying wolf."

      This is an example of using the idiom "cry wolf" to mean making false alarms or exaggerated claims. In this case, John is constantly warning others of a fire, but his coworkers have grown skeptical and compare his warnings to the story of the shepherd boy in Aesop's fables, who cried "Wolf!" so many times that no one believed him when there was actually a wolf.


    The idiom "cry wolf" is commonly used to caution against making false or exaggerated claims. It can also be used to describe a situation where a person has repeatedly made false alarms or warnings, causing others to become skeptical of their credibility.

    In the first meaning, the intention is to discourage someone from falsely or unnecessarily alarming others. It is often used to advise against exaggerating or fabricating situations in order to gain attention or sympathy. This usage is based on the fable of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," in which a young shepherd repeatedly cries for help when there is no danger, and when a wolf actually appears, no one believes him.

    The second meaning of "cry wolf" is to warn without being believed. This can refer to a situation where a person has a history of dishonesty or exaggeration, causing others to doubt the validity of their warnings or pleas for help. It can also be used in a more general sense to describe a situation where someone's past actions have made their current claims less credible.

    Origin of "Cry wolf"

    The idiom "cry wolf" has its origins in a fable by Aesop, a Greek storyteller from the 6th century BC. The fable tells the story of a young shepherd who repeatedly cries "wolf" in order to attract attention from nearby villagers. The villagers come to his aid, only to find out that there was no wolf and the boy was just seeking attention. When a wolf actually does appear and the boy cries for help, the villagers do not believe him, and the wolf ends up attacking and killing the sheep.

    The moral of the fable is that if someone constantly lies or exaggerates, they will not be believed when they tell the truth. This lesson is reflected in the two meanings of the idiom "cry wolf," cautioning against both making false alarms and not being taken seriously due to past dishonesty.

    In modern usage, the idiom has evolved to also include the idea of seeking attention or sympathy through fabrication or exaggeration. It is a cautionary phrase warning against the consequences of being dishonest or deceitful. Overall, the origin of the idiom "cry wolf" serves as a reminder to always tell the truth and be credible in one's actions and words.