“Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War” Meaning, Origin and Easy Examples

Have you ever heard someone use the term ‘cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war’ and wondered what it means? We are going to look at why we use this saying and how to use it in a conversation, as well as where the term came from in the first place.

Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War

Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War Meaning

The meaning of the phrase ‘cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war’ is that by doing a specific action, chaos may follow on from that.

Origin of this idiom

The origin of this phrase is from William Shakespeare who used the term in his play Julius Caesar. The term is made up of several phrases which have one meaning when put together. Havoc! was a cry to war used by military leaders many years ago. To let slip refers to the release of something and the dogs of war are aggressive dogs which are trained to attack on command. When put altogether, these terms make up the meaning that once the word havoc is cried, the attacking dogs will be released and chaos will ensue.

“Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War” Examples

You would use this idiomatic term when trying to warn someone against doing something that will result in something dramatic and most likely unwanted. For example you might say something along the lines of ‘If I were you, I wouldn’t tell Barney that you kissed his girlfriend, cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.’

Conversation examples:

If you would like to incorporate the term ‘cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war’ into your day to day conversation, but are unsure of how to use it, here are some examples to help you better understand how it would fit in.

Conversation 1:

  • Person 1: “I am not entirely sure about Peter’s idea to ski down that mountain, he isn’t trained after all.”
  • Person 2: “The results are bound to be a disaster.”
  • Person 1:Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.”

Conversation 2:

  • Person 1: “I have decided to tell my husband that I had an affair.”
  • Person 2: “Why? That happened years ago and you regret it, it has no bearing on your life now.”
  • Person 1: “I want to be honest, no matter what the consequence.”
  • Person 2: “You will regret doing that, cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.”

Other Ways to Say the Phrase

There are other ways in which you would be able to express the meaning on the term ‘cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.’

Here are some examples of how you could say it with different wording.

  • Be wary of what your actions may cause
  • Beware the consequences of your actions

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