Trend Watch

Catcalling

Lookups spiked after the president-elect of the Philippines whistled at a reporter


Lookups for catcall spiked dramatically on June 2nd, 2016, following reports that the president-elect of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, had whistled suggestively at a reporter, Mariz Umali, at a news conference.

catcall

A 'catcall' is a loud, sexually suggestive call or comment directed at someone publicly.

Rosette Adel of The Philippine Star reported that

Duterte drew flak from netizens and other journalists when he wolf whistled Umali, saying that catcalling a woman publicly with words having dirty connotations is a form of sexual harassment based on Article 1 Section 8 of Davao City Ordinance No. 5004 or “The Women's Development Code of Davao City.”

Catcall appeared in English as a noun in the middle of the 17th century. This earliest sense of the word meant “a small instrument for producing a sound like the cry of a cat, formerly used especially in theaters to express disapproval or contempt.” Early uses of the word are found most frequently in plays, showing the theatrical roots of the term.

She has a voice will grate your Ears worse than a Cat-call, and dresses so ill she's scarce fit to trick up a Yeomans Daughter on a Holyday.
—George Etherege, The Man of Mode, or, Sr. Fopling Flutter. A Comedy: acted at the Duke’s Theatre, 1676

By 1681 the word had become a verb, as seen in an anonymous political satire from that year.

He's B---r's Boar-Catt, that not only Mouses for his Master, but like a Lascivious Representative Puss, goes a rutting to the House-top, and Cat-calls the whole Faction.
The Phanatick in His Colours, 1681

The earliest sense of catcall, the noisemaking device, is little used these days. The word, whether as a noun or a verb, is most often encountered when used in reference to a comment or noise that is rude, sexually suggestive in nature, or both.



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