dog whistle

noun

variants or less commonly 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 While his Conservative opponent was accused of using racist dog whistles to try to turn Hindu and Jewish communities against the Muslim candidate, Khan’s message of consensus won him the mayorship. Peter Guest, WIRED, 26 Mar. 2024 Democrats will push plan after mass shooting KC mayor says governor used dog whistle when blaming ‘thugs’ for Chiefs rally shooting What could have been done to prevent Chiefs rally tragedy? Eleanor Nash, Kansas City Star, 20 Feb. 2024 Nice to see Devon at the Update desk, which includes a funny bit about Jost reacting to a literal racist dog whistle. Andy Hoglund, EW.com, 21 Jan. 2024 His latest false birther claims to Baier are another racist dog whistle in a history of such language. Sarah Beth Hensley, ABC News, 22 Jan. 2024 The song and its music video threaten vigilante violence through jingoistic lyrics and dog whistle politics. Colin Dickey, The New Republic, 23 Oct. 2023 Last year, the annual India Day Parade (a longtime event for the area) featured a machine resembling a bulldozer—interpreted as an Islamophobic dog whistle from India’s growing right-wing Hindu nationalist movement—rolling down Oak Tree Road. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, 8 Dec. 2023 Further, an octopus on its own (blue or otherwise) should not immediately be read as an antisemitic dog whistle, says David Feldman, director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 2 Dec. 2023 The terminology is widely seen as a dog whistle for evangelicals and social conservatives such as Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida, who has used similar language to roll back recognition and rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times, 13 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dog whistle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dog whistle was in 1801

Dictionary Entries Near dog whistle

Cite this Entry

“Dog whistle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dog%20whistle. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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