Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What is a far cry, and what is its origin?

share|improve this question
    
For contextual examples: fairly decent modern Rush song youtube.com/watch?v=7S9uNxUI9ng –  Peter Turner Dec 27 '10 at 6:53

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

A far cry is literally a distance that is quite far to try to call across; in other words, a great distance. The term is used to compare two (usually abstract) things that are vastly different from one another, as in:

Old English is a far cry from the English we speak today.

share|improve this answer

The OED says a far cry is a very long distance and quotes Walter Scott's Tales of My Landlord (1819):

One of the Campbells replied, ‘It is a far cry to Lochow’; a proverbial expression of the tribe, meaning that their ancient hereditary domains lay beyond the reach of an invading enemy.

They contrast it with the older within cry, meaning within calling distance, and quote William Lithgow's Totall Discourse Trav. (1632):

Villages and Houses..each one was within cry of another.

You can read this text here.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.