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dog whistle

[dawg-hwis-uh l, -wis-, dog-] /ˈdɔgˌʰwɪs əl, -ˌwɪs-, ˈdɒg-/
Politics. a political strategy, statement, slogan, etc., that conveys a controversial, secondary message understood only by those who support the message:
His criticism of welfare was a dog whistle appealing to racist voters.
Origin of dog whistle
First recorded in 1995-2000; < dog whistle a high-frequency whistle audible to dogs but not humans
Related forms
dog-whistle, adjective
dog whistling, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dog-whistle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Jack had a dog-whistle, so he took it off and gave it to her.

    Mopsa the Fairy Jean Ingelow
  • He pulled a dog-whistle from his pocket and blew two shrill calls upon it.

    The Adventures of Harry Revel

    Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • Neither the Master's calls nor the ear-ripping blasts of his dog-whistle could bring her back to The Place.

    Lad: A Dog Albert Payson Terhune
British Dictionary definitions for dog-whistle


relating to the targeting of potentially controversial messages to specific voters while avoiding offending those voters with whom the message will not be popular: dog-whistle politics
(intransitive) to employ this kind of political strategy
Word Origin
C21: from the fact that a dog whistle operates at frequencies that can be heard only by dogs
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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