verb (used without object)
  1. to utter long wailing cries, as cats in rutting time.
  2. to utter a similar sound; howl or screech.
  3. to quarrel like cats.
noun Also cat·er·waul·ing.
  1. the cry of a cat in rutting time.
  2. any similar sound.

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

Synonyms for caterwaul Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for caterwauler


verb (intr)
  1. to make a yowling noise, as a cat on heat
  1. 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 caterwauler



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