See more synonyms for howl on
verb (used without object)
  1. to utter a loud, prolonged, mournful cry, as that of a dog or wolf.
  2. to utter a similar cry in distress, pain, rage, etc.; wail.
  3. to make a sound like an animal howling: The wind howls through the trees.
  4. Informal. to go on a spree; enjoy oneself without restraint.
verb (used with object)
  1. to utter with howls: to howl the bad news.
  2. to drive or force by howls (often followed by down): to howl down the opposition.
  1. the cry of a dog, wolf, etc.
  2. a cry or wail, as of pain, rage, or protest.
  3. a sound like wailing: the howl of the wind.
  4. a loud, scornful laugh or yell.
  5. something that causes a laugh or a scornful yell, as a joke or funny or embarrassing situation.

Origin of howl

1300–50; Middle English hulen, houlen (v.); cognate with Dutch huilen, Low German hülen, German heulen, Danish hyle; akin to Old Norse ȳla
Related formsout·howl, verb (used with object) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for howl

Contemporary Examples of howl

Historical Examples of howl

  • So he let them howl as much as they liked, but never troubled his head about them.

    Tanglewood Tales

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Peter slammed its door to, crushing them so that he loosed his grip, with a howl.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • Without Biddy, I should wish but to howl at the sunset, as a dog bays the moon.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • "You must be a howl," commented the captain, making for the seductive locker.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • It was enough to make any one howl with horror, for it was all so hideous.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

British Dictionary definitions for howl


  1. a long plaintive cry or wail characteristic of a wolf or hound
  2. a similar cry of pain or sorrow
  3. slang
    1. a person or thing that is very funny
    2. a prolonged outburst of laughter
  4. electronics an unwanted prolonged high-pitched sound produced by a sound-producing system as a result of feedback
  1. to express in a howl or utter such cries
  2. (intr) (of the wind, etc) to make a wailing noise
  3. (intr) informal to shout or laugh

Word Origin for howl

C14: houlen; related to Middle High German hiuweln, Middle Dutch hūlen, Danish hyle
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 howl

early 13c., houlen, probably ultimately of imitative origin; similar formations are found in other Germanic languages. Related: Howled; howling. As a noun from 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper