Definition of caterwaul
1 : to make a harsh cry
2 : to protest or complain noisily
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Examples of caterwaul in a Sentence
Some animal was caterwauling in my backyard last night.
He continues to caterwaul about having to take the blame.
Recent Examples of caterwaul from the Web
Mr. Sanders, 76, played with John Coltrane near the end of his life, seeming to inherit Coltrane’s affinity for global folk musics, Eastern spirituality and caterwauling expressionism.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'caterwaul'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
An angry (or amorous) cat can make a lot of noise. As long ago as the mid-1300s, English speakers were using caterwaul for the act of voicing feline passions. The cater part is, of course, connected to the cat, but scholars disagree about whether it traces to Middle Dutch cāter, meaning "tomcat," or if it is really just cat with an "-er" added. The waul is probably imitative in origin; it represents the feline howl itself. English's first caterwaul was a verb focused on feline vocalizations, but by the 1600s it was also being used for noisy people or things. By the 1700s it had become a noun naming any sound as loud and grating as a tomcat's yowl.
Origin and Etymology of caterwaul
Middle English caterwawen
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
CATERWAUL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of caterwaul for English Language Learners
: to make a very loud and unpleasant sound
: to protest or complain noisily
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