Cry Wolf – Idiom, Meaning and Sentence Examples

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

The idiom to cry wolf means to sound a false alarm or deceive others by warning about a non-existent danger, usually to get attention. Have you ever told a fib for attention and then regretted it when no one believed your real story? Well, you just pulled a classic cry wolf, and this is actually the story of the idiom’s origin.

Idioms are words or phrases that aren’t literal in their intent. We need idioms to help elevate our words with metaphorical scenarios and convey deeper emotions in relatable ways. The key is making sure they’re used correctly. So, I’ll explain the deeper meaning and interesting origin of cry wolf, and share a few sentence examples.

The Meaning of Cry Wolf

Cry Wolf – Idiom Meaning and Sentence Examples 1

The idiom cry wolf is when someone raises a false alarm, typically more than once, leading others to doubt their sincerity even when they tell the truth later. It’s about deceit and karma.

If you’re caught lying more than once, it destroys your credibility. So, when you have a true disaster on your hands, no one cares or believes you.

Different Tenses to Use

  • Cry (Present): Every time she feels neglected, she tends to cry wolf about feeling sick.
  • Crying (Present Continuous): He’s crying wolf again, saying his dog ate his assignment.
  • Cried (Past): They soon regretted that they cried wolf about the looming deadline.

Origin and Etymology of Cry Wolf

Cry Wolf Ngram
Cry wolf usage trend.

The phrase “cry wolf” is straight out of Aesop’s fable called “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” The tale is of a boy tending to sheep who, out of boredom, falsely cries that a wolf is attacking the flock. People rush in to help, only to find that there’s no wolf. After a few false alarms, when a real wolf shows up, no one believes the boy’s cries, and he has to watch the beast attack the sheep. The message? False alarms can lead to genuine disasters.

Synonyms for Cry Wolf

Mix up your wording with a few alternatives to the idiom cry wolf.

  • Sound a false alarm
  • Spin a yarn
  • Fabricate
  • Tell tall tales
  • Feign distress
  • Lie

Using Cry Wolf in a Sentence

Cry Wolf – Idiom Meaning and Sentence Examples 2

  • Don’t trust Max; he’s known to cry wolf on Fridays just to get out of work.
  • She cried wolf so many times that nobody believed her when she was actually in trouble.
  • If you keep crying wolf about your health, people aren’t going to believe you when you’re actually sick.
  • Trust me. Teachers can tell when students cry wolf about their lost homework.
  • The committee never took her warnings seriously because she had a reputation for crying wolf.
  • Kids, remember the story of the boy who cried wolf?
  • Jack cried wolf about the project’s difficulties so many times that investors started to pull out.
  • Every time there’s a minor glitch at school, she cries wolf, causing unnecessary panic.
  • I think Ted’s just crying wolf about his financial losses to get some sympathy.
  • Don’t be the girl who cried wolf; there are other ways to get attention.

Howling at the Moon

The idiom “cry wolf” stands as a stark reminder of the consequences of deceit. Now that you’re all set to use this phrase in your conversations or writing, try learning a few others to mix things up! We’ve got hundreds on our website just waiting to be explored.