A caterwaul is a yowl, shriek, or loud cry. If you've ever heard two cats fighting, you know what a caterwaul sounds like.

While a caterwaul can be made by a person, it's more likely the wailing sound that a distressed or fighting animal makes. To make this sound is to caterwaul — it's both a noun and verb. Cats are, in fact, the animal best known to caterwaul, and the word is believed to come from the German katerwaulen, "cry like a cat," or possibly the Middle Dutch cater, "tomcat," and Middle English waul, "yowl."

Definitions of caterwaul
  1. verb
    utter shrieks, as of cats
    synonyms: yowl
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    type of:
    pipe, pipe up, shriek, shrill
    utter a shrill cry
  2. noun
    the yowling sound made by a cat
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    type of:
    the characteristic utterance of an animal
Word Family

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