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[hou-ler] /ˈhaʊ lər/
a person, animal, or thing that howls.
Also called howler monkey. any large, prehensile-tailed tropical American monkey of the genus Alouatta, the males of which make a howling noise: some species are endangered.
a mistake, especially an embarrassing one in speech or writing, that evokes laughter; a very humorous mistake or a funny blunder.
Informal. something that makes a piercing and often prolonged noise, as an alarm.
Origin of howler
First recorded in 1790-1800; howl + -er1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for howler
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You've no idea, Dick, what a howler and piler this storm is.

  • But when winter comes, howler and his friends get together and hunt in packs.

  • He is the “howler” and “the Ruddy One”, and rides a wild boar.

    Indian Myth and Legend Donald Alexander Mackenzie
  • But once in a long while there'll be a howler, and that's what the barometer is trying to tell us now.

    Wings of the Wind Credo Harris
  • The operator noticed that the connection was open and put on the howler.

    Whispering Wires

    Henry Leverage
  • The "howler" is much prized by the Indians as an article of food.

  • He sat down and took up the last number of the howler which lay on the table.

    Mr. Isaacs F. Marion Crawford
  • He called Scraggs on the howler and explained the situation.

    Captain Scraggs Peter B. Kyne
  • Like howler he can go a surprising length of time without food and still retain his strength.

British Dictionary definitions for howler


Also called howler monkey. any large New World monkey of the genus Alouatta, inhabiting tropical forests in South America and having a loud howling cry
(informal) a glaring mistake
(Brit) (formerly) a device that produces a loud tone in a telephone receiver to attract attention when the receiver is incorrectly replaced
a person or thing that howls
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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Word Origin and History for howler

1832, "animal that howls," agent noun from howl (v.). Meaning "glaring blunder, ridiculous mistake" is first recorded 1890.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for howler



A very funny mistake, esp in something written or spoken rather solemnly; also, a serious and obvious mistake: His misuse of ''Rappaport'' for ''rapport'' was the season's howler (1844+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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