Word of the Day Archive
Wednesday August 8, 2001
, intransitive verb:
1. To make a harsh cry.
2. To have a noisy argument.
1. A shrill, discordant sound.
John met Angela head-to-head and there was a lot of bellowing and caterwauling.
-- Matthew Parris, "Prescott grapples with his feminine side", Times (London), December 14, 2000
In the early days, when people were still shocked by the novelty of cursing, screaming, caterwauling emotional incontinents attacking each other on stage, he [Jerry Springer] used to produce high-falutin' justifications for the show.
-- Paul Hoggart, "Paul Hoggart's television choice", Times (London), December 9, 2000
The forest silence is impermeable, entirely undisturbed by the soft bell notes of hidden birds, the tick of descending leaves and twigs or soft thump of falling fruit, or even the far caterwaul of monkeys.
-- Peter Matthiessen, African Silences
Caterwaul is from Middle English caterwawen, "to cry as a cat," either from Medieval Dutch kater, "tomcat" + Dutch wauwelen, "to tattle," or for catawail, from cat-wail, "to wail like a cat."