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  1. a shrill, whistlelike sound or loud raucous shout made to express disapproval at a theater, meeting, etc.
  2. an instrument for producing such a sound.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to sound catcalls.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to express disapproval of by catcalls.
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Origin of catcall

First recorded in 1650–60; cat + call
Related formscat·call·er, noun


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1. boo, hiss, jeer.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for catcall

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He found that antiquaries were much divided in opinion as to the origin of the catcall.

  • The essayist, however, is disposed to hold that the catcall is originally a piece of English music.

  • The conveyance of a catcall to the theatre evidences a predisposition to uproarious censure.

  • The soldier, addressed put a finger to the sound side of his mouth and uttered a catcall.

    The Burning Spear

    John Galsworthy

British Dictionary definitions for catcall


  1. a shrill whistle or cry expressing disapproval, as at a public meeting, etc
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  1. to utter such a call (at); deride with catcalls
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Derived Formscatcaller, noun
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

Word Origin and History for catcall


1650s, a type of noisemaker used to express dissatisfaction in play-houses, from cat (n.) + call (n.); presumably because it sounded like an angry cat. As a verb, attested from 1734.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper