- to keep asking for help, even when you don't need it. When you really need help, no one believes you.
- to state that there is a problem when there is none. In the event that a real problem comes up no one believes you
- to claim that something is happening when it isn't
- give a false warning of danger, etc. by crying unnecessarily for help
- The little boy had cried wolf so many times that when he was really sick no one believed him.
- The woman cried wolf so often that when she really needed help the security company took their time to get to her.
- These doomsday cults have cried wolf so many times that no one even listens to them anymore.
- As the children has cried wolf too often, the parents has stopped taking its notice.
The idiom is based on a story about a young shepherd. He kept on calling the villagers and telling them that a wolf was attacking his sheep and it always proved to be a joke. When a real wolf came no one believed his cries and all of the sheep were attacked.
It was translated from one of Aesop's fables in 1692. Aesop was a Greek storyteller who lived in 620 BCE. The moral is that no one believes a liar, even when he is telling the truth.
It has been used to indicate that a false alarm has been raised since the 1800s.