Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To cry or screech like a cat in heat.
  • intransitive verb To make a shrill, discordant sound.
  • intransitive verb To have a noisy argument.
  • noun A shrill, discordant sound.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To cry as cats under the influence of the sexual instinct; make a disagreeable howling or screeching.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To cry as cats in rutting time; to make a harsh, offensive noise.
  • noun A caterwauling.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb intransitive To cry as cats in heat; to make a harsh, offensive noise.
  • verb intransitive To have a noisy argument, like cats.
  • noun A yowling.
  • noun A noisy quarrel.

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

  • verb utter shrieks, as of cats
  • noun the yowling sound made by a cat in heat

Etymologies

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

[Middle English *caterwawlen : *cater, tomcat; akin to Low German kater + wawlen, wrawlen, to yowl (ultimately of imitative origin).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English caterwrawe (one of numerous earlier variants); from cater ("cat") + wrawen/wrawlen ("cry like a cat").

Examples

  • I was not going to indict, complain or caterwaul, which is why I didn't even consider writing a year-in-review piece before very early this morning.

    Barry Crimmins : Political Satirist:

  • Unfortunately, most of the people who caterwaul about being offended are being serious.

    Still Offended By Language | Heretical Ideas Magazine

  • Most of the people who caterwaul about being offended are being serious.

    2009 February | Heretical Ideas Magazine

  • Although other kids were quicker with the software, Simon enjoyed these studies because he loved learning new words, like caterwaul, which meant “to shriek or yowl,” and taciturn, which described someone who was quiet… like him.

    Watercolored Different

  • You walk in to the deafening metronome uncha-uncha-uncha robotic caterwaul, the music almost binary in nature 101101-ing to a crowd of Latino gangbangers, septuagenarians, slumming rich kids and washed-up high school jocks with backwards hats who were just looking for something to date rape.

    Someplace Else

  • It's a comedy rule, it seems, that the louder you can say a line or caterwaul in reaction to some hoary bit of high jinks, the more uproarious the moment becomes.

    Theater review: 'Fox on the Fairway' at Signature Theatre

  • Most of the people who caterwaul about being offended are being serious.

    Still Offended By Language | Heretical Ideas Magazine

  • Jump the chair light the stove heat the pan stop the floor caterwaul beneath the faucet

    Butter Beans

  • The Australian government is having a harder time endorsing the verdict, prompting the predictable caterwaul from China.

    China Convicts Itself

  • The Australian government is having a harder time endorsing the verdict, prompting the predictable caterwaul from China.

    China Convicts Itself

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • This activity is sometimes frowned upon.

    May 4, 2007

  • On storm-struck deck, wind sirens caterwaul

    from "Channel Crossing," Sylvia Plath

    April 14, 2008