Simple Definition of ululate
: to cry loudly
Examples of ululate in a sentence
a widow ululating in sorrow
<Arab women ululating with grief.>
Did You Know?
When other birds are still, the screech owls take up the strain, like mourning women their ancient u-lu-lu. When Henry David Thoreau used "u-lu-lu" to imitate the cry of screech owls and mourning women in that particular passage from his book Walden, he was re-enacting the etymology of ululate (a word he likely knew). "Ululate" descends from the Latin verb ululare. That Latin root carried the same meaning as our modern English word, and it likely originated in the echoes of the rhythmic wailing sound associated with it. Even today, "ululate" often refers to ritualistic or expressive wailing performed at times of mourning or celebration or used to show approval.
Origin and Etymology of ululate
Latin ululatus, past participle of ululare, of imitative origin
First Known Use: circa 1623
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up ululate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).