wreak havoc/play havoc

Gabriel Malheiros

Senior Member
Portuguese - Brazil
Hello, everyone

If I want to say "cancer" harmed a great deal of my body, which expression + preposition should I use? Play havoc with/all over or Wreak havoc on/all over?

Like:

"Cancer wreaked havoc all over/on my body)
or
"Cancer played havoc with/all over my body?

Thank you
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi Gabriel
    I think the two verbs call for different prepositions:
    Cancer wreaked havoc on...
    Cancer played havoc with....


    (The two collocations also have different meanings.)
     

    Gabriel Malheiros

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    Hi Gabriel
    I think the two verbs call for different prepositions:
    Cancer wreaked havoc on...
    Cancer played havoc with....


    (The two collocations also have different meanings.)
    What is the difference with regard to the meaning, Loob?

    And "all over"? Can I use it with either of these expressions?
     
    Last edited:

    Gabriel Malheiros

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    Hi Gabriel
    I think the two verbs call for different prepositions:
    Cancer wreaked havoc on...
    Cancer played havoc with....


    (The two collocations also have different meanings.)
    Can you tell me the difference between wreak havoc on and play havoc with?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    From the Word Reference dictionary on "havoc":

    great destruction or devastation:

    1. play havoc with or wreak havoc on, [~ + object]
      • to create confusion or disorder in: The plans for restructuring will play havoc with the town.
      • to destroy; ruin: The tornado wreaked havoc on several towns in its path.
    Great destruction or devastation is unlikely to be limited to a small area so "all over" doesn't add much to "my body."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    For me, "play havoc with" has the 'create confusion or disorder' meaning, and "wreak havoc on" has the 'destroy, ruin' meaning. I imagine you're thinking of the second meaning with your sentence, Gabriel.
     

    Gabriel Malheiros

    Senior Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    From the Word Reference dictionary on "havoc":


    Great destruction or devastation is unlikely to be limited to a small area so "all over" doesn't add much to "my body."
    For me, "play havoc with" has the 'create confusion or disorder' meaning, and "wreak havoc on" has the 'destroy, ruin' meaning. I imagine you're thinking of the second meaning with your sentence, Gabriel.


    So would you just say "Cancer wreaked havoc on my body"?
     

    editoreyes

    New Member
    English - US
    So would you just say "Cancer wreaked havoc on my body"?
    If you want your writing to have maximum impact, use the word "wreak." To say it plays havoc actually downplays your impact. Think about what the word play means! Playing is certainly more fun than wreaking, and cancer is not fun. Wreak sounds like wreck, which is more like what cancer does to you. Praying for your recovery.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    For me, "play havoc with" has the 'create confusion or disorder' meaning, and "wreak havoc on" has the 'destroy, ruin' meaning. I imagine you're thinking of the second meaning with your sentence, Gabriel.
    I agree. I was going to say that “wreaked havoc” would be a comparative to “played havoc”; anything stronger that “wreaked havoc” would be in the realm of “destroyed”.
     
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