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Word of the Day
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Definitions for ululate

  1. to lament loudly and shrilly.
  2. to howl, as a dog or a wolf; hoot, as an owl.
  3. to utter howling sounds, as in shrill, wordless lamentation; wail.

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Citations for ululate
And above these words spoken all about me as I climbed towards the white cone of the volcano, among the mourners indifferent to my task, ululated one high, shrill lament, a flame of words that lay like a protective mantle over the funereal ceremony of that night ... Carlos Fuentes, Terra Nostra, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden, 1976
On the stage, we get a man and woman, brother and sister, leaping and staggering around a primitive wooden effigy as they moan, chant, ululate, "Mut-ter," "mud-der," and "mut-yer," over and over again. John Simon, "Strictly from Hunger," New York, March 28, 1988
Origin of ululate
Ululate is a straightforward borrowing from Latin ululātus, past participle of the verb ululāre “to howl, shriek.” The verb derives from the noun ulala and a variant uluca “owl” from a Proto-Indo-European root of imitative origin: u- with variants ul-, ulul-, and uwal- “to howl.” (Imitative roots must be handled carefully because it is easy to make unjustified derivations.) The variant u- is the source of German Uhu “owl.” Latin uluca is related to Sanskrit úlūka- “owl.” The root variant uwal- is the source of German Eule “owl” and English owl. Ululate entered English in the 17th century.