A weekly publication asked, “Can you imagine the ‘family values’ hue and cry” if Hillary Clinton was accused of the sexual comments of which Donald Trump was guilty on that infamous tape? That got me to thinking, not about how unlikely such an eventuality would be, but about “hue and cry.” The phrase means to “make a noise.” The “cry” part seems obvious enough, but what is a “hue”?
There is some difference of opinion on that question. One source says its an onomatopoeic word, probably from the Old French heu, suggesting a “hoot.” Others think the phrase is an Anglicization of the Latin term hutesium et clamor, meaning “sounding a horn and shouting.” Still others attribute the source to the Old French huer (“shout”) and crier (“cry”).
The phrase apparently originated in the 13th century, probably in the Statute of Westminster of 1285, which provided that anyone witnessing a crime should make a “hue and cry” against the fleeing criminal from one town to the next until the evil-doer was apprehended and delivered to the sheriff. All that hueing and crying must have made for awfully noisy law enforcement.
There is a constant hue and cry against the Bard of Buffalo Bayou, but he only hears what he wants to.
There was an old fellow from Rye,
Always making a big hue and cry.
When asked why the noise,
He lost all his poise
And confessed that he, too, wondered why.