dog whistle

noun
variants: or less commonly dog-whistle \ ˈdȯg-​ˈhwi-​səl How to pronounce dog-whistle (audio) , -​ˈwi-​ \

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

As such, some organizations on Facebook use coy in-jokes and other far-right dog whistling tactics to circumvent Facebook’s algorithmic filters. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Hundreds of active and former police officers are part of extremist Facebook groups," 14 June 2019 But what Trump has done is given a green light, a dog whistle to those who would rewrite history, who would use that history as a tool. Griff Witte, Washington Post, "In laws, rhetoric and acts of violence, Europe is rewriting dark chapters of its past," 19 Feb. 2018 The basic moderation problem has splintered into a number of different scandals over the past two years, including disturbing children’s content, terrorism videos, white supremacy dog whistling, and radicalization via YouTube’s algorithm. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Google still has no answers for YouTube’s biggest problem," 11 Dec. 2018 Many have pointed out that these attacks could be motivated by anti-Semitism, as they are sometimes portrayed in terms of a globalist conspiracy and, for some, the term globalist is an anti-Semitic dog whistle. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "After Years of George Soros Conspiracy Theories, Someone Targeted His Home with an Explosive Device," 23 Oct. 2018 Everyone who didn’t vote for this man knows that a presidential all-caps tweet is the highest pitch of his racist dog whistle. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Can Someone in the White House Run and Get the KFC Bucket off the Old Fool’s Head? He’s Recklessly Tweeting Again," 28 Mar. 2018 Efforts to link liberal causes to Soros are a tactic often used by the alt-right and other conservatives as a dog whistle for anti-Semitism. Nick Statt, The Verge, "No one at Facebook seems to know who hired a DC opposition research firm," 15 Nov. 2018 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

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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Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

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The first known use of dog whistle was in 1801

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