Tuesday, October 04, 2005

THE WORD OF THE DAY FOR OCTOBER 4 2005

caterwaul • \KAT-er-wawl\ • verb *
1 : to make a harsh cry
2 : to protest or complain noisily

http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/audio.pl?caterw01.wav=caterwaul

Example sentence:"Just before sunrise, barred owls hooted, screamed and caterwauled in the distance." (Chris Young, The State Journal-Register [Springfield, IL], April 9, 2005)

Did you know?An angry (or amorous) cat can make a lot of noise. As long ago as the mid-1300s, English speakers were using "caterwaul" for the act of voicing feline passions. The "cater" part is, of course, connected to the cat, but scholars disagree about whether it traces to the Middle Dutch "cāter," meaning "tomcat," or if it is really just "cat" with an "-er" added. The "waul" is probably imitative in origin; it represents the feline howl itself. English's first "caterwaul" was a verb focused on feline vocalizations, but by the 1600s it was also being used for noisy people or things. By the 1700s it had become a noun naming any sound as loud and grating as a tomcat's yowl.

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 8:00 AM   0 comments links to this post

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