[ kat-er-wawl ]
/ ˈkæt ərˌwɔl /

verb (used without object)

to utter long wailing cries, as cats in rutting time.
to utter a similar sound; howl or screech.
to quarrel like cats.

noun Also cat·er·waul·ing.

the cry of a cat in rutting time.
any similar sound.

Nearby words

  1. caterina,
  2. catering,
  3. caterpillar,
  4. caterpillar flap,
  5. caterpillar hunter,
  6. cates,
  7. catesby,
  8. catfall,
  9. catfight,
  10. catfish

Origin of caterwaul

1350–1400; Middle English cater(wawen) (equivalent to cater tomcat (< Middle Dutch) + wawen to howl, Old English wāwan to blow, said of the wind) + waul, variant of wail

Related formscat·er·waul·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for caterwaul

British Dictionary definitions for caterwaul


/ (ˈkætəˌwɔːl) /

verb (intr)

to make a yowling noise, as a cat on heat


a shriek or yell made by or sounding like a cat on heat
Derived Formscaterwauler, noun

Word Origin for caterwaul

C14: of imitative origin

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 caterwaul



late 14c., caterwrawen, perhaps from Low German katerwaulen "cry like a cat," or formed in English from cater, from Middle Dutch cater "tomcat" + Middle English waul "to yowl," apparently from Old English *wrag, *wrah "angry," of uncertain origin but all somehow imitative. Related: Caterwauled; caterwauling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper