dog whistle

noun
\ˈdȯg-ˈhwi-səl, -ˈwi-\
variants: or less commonly dog-whistle

Definition of dog whistle 

1 : a whistle to call or direct a dog especially : one sounding at a frequency inaudible to the human ear

2 politics : an expression or statement that has a secondary meaning intended to be understood only by a particular group of people Democrats and liberals sometimes have gone to ridiculous lengths to portray speech by Republicans and conservatives as dog whistles responsible for inciting unstable people to carry out violent acts …The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch … habitually inserts dog-whistles into his speeches to motivate evangelical voters.The Economist often used before another noun That is the fundamental perversity of 'dog whistle politics', whereby political parties send coded messages that will be heard one way by their core supporters and another way altogether by others.— Robert E. Goodin

Examples of dog whistle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The only potential good news — as the academic Klinkler pointed out in this essay — is that the harsh dog whistle of Trump’s xenophobia that only his supporters picked up in 2016 is now audible for all to hear. Will Bunch, Philly.com, "Can Trump's slow-motion ethnic cleansing keep whites in U.S. majority? | Will Bunch," 12 July 2018 The audience, responding to the dog whistle, erupted in applause. Logan Jenkins, sandiegouniontribune.com, "For true moderates, New Yorker tops Dem dream ticket," 9 July 2018 And ever since he was elected president, Donald Trump has been emitting a dog whistle to racists, bigots, misogynists and anti-Semites: the coast is clear to crawl out of from the shadows. Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, "Beelzebub on the ballot: Nathan Larson and the scary guys running for Congress," 4 June 2018 His hardline immigration agenda, combined with his dog whistling, have made many people reexamine the role of ICE in the context of unauthorized immigration. refinery29.com, "Cynthia Nixon & Other Progressives Want To Abolish ICE. Will It Work?," 22 June 2018 First off, there is no racist dog whistle in this tweet, since Donald Trump didn’t use all caps. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Here’s Why Trump Blasted Amazon on Twitter (Hint: It Has Nothing to Do With Amazon)," 29 Mar. 2018 One of them uses a word that is on its face offensive, and the other one uses sort of a racist dog whistle. Stephanie Ebbert, BostonGlobe.com, "Why the c-word is still the third rail of profanity," 1 June 2018 First, here is a piece exploring the dangerous rise of racist dog whistles in modern media. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "raceAhead: Can Starbucks Change America?," 31 May 2018 In an age where any dog whistle can be declared an innocent misunderstanding, there are probably only about four or five racist statements that can’t be explained away. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Roseanne Barr Succeeded Because of Her Backward Views," 31 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dog whistle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dog whistle

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of dog whistle was in 1801

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