`hue and cry’

First, let’s deal with the pronunciation of `hue’. The `hu’ is like the `hu’ in `human’ and `huge’, and the vowel that follows is like `oo’ in `cool’, `pool’, and `school’.

When a politician is caught with his hands in the cookie jar, people raise a hue and cry about corruption. In other words, they complain about it rather noisily; sometimes, there is a public protest. This outcry or noisy protest is referred to as `hue and cry’.

Example: There was a hue and cry when the Government decided to increase taxes.

Dictionaries define `hue’ as colour. What does colour have to do with noise? Nothing. The `hue’ in the expression is from the French `huer’ meaning, `to shout after’. `Hue and cry’ is a legal term used in the 13th century to refer to a group of people running after a thief. What do people do when they run after a thief? They shout and create all kinds of noise to attract attention!

Source: ‘Know Your English’ ( The Hindu) – July 10, 2006


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