cry uncle


to surrender or give up a fight

STATISTICS

IN THE PRESS

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner and his fellow executives at Ford and Chrysler did not give up on the SUV until $4-per-gallon gas made them CRY UNCLE.

The Record

Did you
know?

cry uncle
idiom

- to indicate a willingness to give up a fight or surrender

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WORD ORIGIN

To "cry uncle" is an old-fashioned call by one child for another to surrender or cry for mercy. It was used often during schoolyard or playground fights when one child gained the advantage and would tell the other one to "cry uncle, say uncle or holler uncle," meaning that they should give up or beg for mercy. Today, the phrase is used less often as a demand for someone to give up and more often just a way to indicate that someone is giving up or has already given up.

There are many fanciful theories about the origin of this phrase, but one is worth mentioning. The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins says the earliest printed recording is around 1910. But they speculate that it may actually trace back to ancient Rome. When a Roman youngster got into trouble, he would yell "Patrue mi patruissime", which translates into something like "Uncle, my best of uncles!"

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SYNONYMS

give up, give in, surrender, capitulate, submit, cede, concede defeat

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PRACTICE OWAD TODAY

Say something like:


"It's better to CRY UNCLE if the sales campaign has failed, then to invest more money in it."

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