Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A public clamor, as of protest or demand: raised a great hue and cry about political corruption.
  • n. The pursuit of a felon announced with loud shouts to alert others who were then legally obliged to give chase.
  • n. The loud outcry formerly used in such a pursuit.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The public pursuit of a felon; accompanied by shouts to warn others to give chase.
  • n. A loud and persistent public clamour; especially one of protest or making some demand.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a loud outcry with which felons were anciently pursued, and which all who heard it were obliged to take up, joining in the pursuit till the malefactor was taken; in later usage, a written proclamation issued on the escape of a felon from prison, requiring all persons to aid in retaking him.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. loud and persistent outcry from many people

Etymologies

Middle English hew and cri, partial translation of Anglo-Norman hu e cri : hu, outcry, clamor (from Old French huer, to shout, of imitative origin) + e, and + cri, cry (from Old French crier, to cry; see cry).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Anglo-Norman legal phrase hu e cri. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Recently it has featured in M-W's Word of the Day, see here

    May 16, 2009

  • Also the name of a Scottish duo who among other songs had the haunting love song with the chorus

    Violently
    You came to me
    Said I could be a different man, a different man
    Violently
    Your words hit me
    And I broke gently into your hands

    Wow!

    January 28, 2008

  • Merriam_Webster Dictionary:
    noun
    Etymology: hue outcry
    Date: 15th century
    1 a: a loud outcry formerly used in the pursuit of one who is suspected of a crime b: the pursuit of a suspect or a written proclamation for the capture of a suspect
    2: a clamor of alarm or protest

    See also hue

    January 28, 2008