producing or uttering a howling noise: a howling mob.
desolate, dismal, or dreary: a howling wilderness.
Informal. very great; tremendous: a howling success.

Origin of howling

1250–1300; Middle English houlinge (gerund); see howl, -ing2
Related formshowl·ing·ly, adverb



verb (used without object)

to utter a loud, prolonged, mournful cry, as that of a dog or wolf.
to utter a similar cry in distress, pain, rage, etc.; wail.
to make a sound like an animal howling: The wind howls through the trees.
Informal. to go on a spree; enjoy oneself without restraint.

verb (used with object)

to utter with howls: to howl the bad news.
to drive or force by howls (often followed by down): to howl down the opposition.


the cry of a dog, wolf, etc.
a cry or wail, as of pain, rage, or protest.
a sound like wailing: the howl of the wind.
a loud, scornful laugh or yell.
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. 2019

Examples from the Web for howling

Contemporary Examples of howling

Historical Examples of howling

  • Now the wind came like a wolf down the Murchison Pass, howling and moaning.

  • I was prodding for my food into a camp-kettle when they were howling for their pap.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • It was simply a concert of howling monkeys that had so terrified me!

    Green Mansions

    W. H. Hudson

  • In an instant the little room was filled with howling, fighting men.

    The Monster Men

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • It's sent as a warning to repent you of your sins, and it's howling because it hates to go back.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

British Dictionary definitions for howling



(prenominal) informal (intensifier)a howling success; a howling error
Derived Formshowlingly, adverb



a long plaintive cry or wail characteristic of a wolf or hound
a similar cry of pain or sorrow
  1. a person or thing that is very funny
  2. a prolonged outburst of laughter
electronics an unwanted prolonged high-pitched sound produced by a sound-producing system as a result of feedback


to express in a howl or utter such cries
(intr) (of the wind, etc) to make a wailing noise
(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 howling



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