dog whistle

variants: or less commonly dog-whistle \ ˈdȯg-​ˈ(h)wi-​səl How to pronounce dog whistle (audio) \

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 Its online campaigns under the hashtag #SaveOurChildren have also been used as an anti-LGBTQ dog whistle. Washington Post, "Identifying far-right symbols that appeared at the U.S. Capitol riot," 15 Jan. 2021 But think about the dog whistle that in some instances has been far louder. NBC News, "Meet the Press - November 29, 2020," 29 Nov. 2020 This guy has a dog whistle about as big as a fog horn. USA TODAY, "Debate transcript: Trump, Biden final presidential debate moderated by Kristen Welker," 23 Oct. 2020 During the campaign, Perdue’s campaign ran a digital ad in which Ossoff’s nose was lengthened in an edit that Ossoff said during their final debate was an anti-Semitic dog whistle. Gabe Friedman,, "As Raphael Warnock’s Israel record becomes a flashpoint, Atlanta Jews call the Senate candidate a friend," 11 Nov. 2020 Consequently, in my view, political use of the fear of crime without explicit acknowledgment of racial inequities as context is an old and pernicious dog whistle. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: Partisan zeal and the Minnesota Legislature, nuclear weapons test ban treaty, blame for COVID-19 deaths, Supreme Court strategy, Sid Hartman's omissions, people behaving well," 26 Oct. 2020 Meanwhile, the racist dog whistle has become the neo-fascist bullhorn, and neither the left nor Democrats as a whole have a robust plan to counter the white supremacist messaging that draws so many to the Trumpian cult. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, "Don’t Reboot the 2016 Horror Show," 23 Oct. 2020 His disgusting performance today is nothing more than a desperate dog whistle from a losing politician who was already caught running anti-Semitic ads against Jon Ossoff. Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY, "Georgia GOP Sen. Perdue faces criticism after purposefully mispronouncing Kamala Harris' name," 17 Oct. 2020 The article in the New York Times, like its companion piece in the Washington Post, is one long dog whistle. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, "Amy Coney Barrett’s Christian Religiosity," 14 Oct. 2020

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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Last Updated

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dog whistle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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