dog whistle

[dawg-hwis-uh l, -wis-, dog-]


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 formsdog-whis·tle, adjectivedog whistling, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dog-whistle

Contemporary Examples of dog-whistle

Historical Examples of dog-whistle

  • 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 populardog-whistle politics


(intr) to employ this kind of political strategy

Word Origin for dog-whistle

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