To howl is to make a long, sad, crying sound. You might howl every once in a while, but it's more common to hear wolves and dogs let loose and howl, especially in the presence of a full moon.

Terribly sad or fearful people howl, and wolves howl to communicate with each other. Your dog might howl at the sound of a passing fire truck, which also makes a noise with its siren that you can call a howl. Before the 1400s, the word was houlen, a word that probably emerged as an imitation of the way a howl sounds.

Definitions of howl

v cry loudly, as of animals

“The coyotes were howling in the desert”
wrawl, yammer, yowl
Type of:
emit, let loose, let out, utter
express audibly; utter sounds (not necessarily words)

v emit long loud cries

howl with sorrow”
roar, ululate, wail, yaup, yawl
squall, waul, wawl
make high-pitched, whiney noises
Type of:
call, cry, holler, hollo, scream, shout, shout out, squall, yell
utter a sudden loud cry

v make a loud noise, as of wind, water, or vehicles

“The wind was howling in the trees”
make a loud, roaring sound, as of a car engine, while moving
bawl, yawp
make a raucous noise
to make or produce a loud noise
Type of:
make noise, noise, resound
emit a noise

v laugh unrestrainedly and heartily

Type of:
express joy, express mirth, laugh
produce laughter

n the long plaintive cry of a hound or a wolf

Type of:
the characteristic utterance of an animal

n a loud sustained noise resembling the cry of a hound

“the howl of the wind made him restless”
a high-pitched howl
Type of:
sound of any kind (especially unintelligible or dissonant sound)

n a long loud emotional utterance

“he gave a howl of pain”
howls of laughter”
“their howling had no effect”
howling, ululation
Type of:
utterance, vocalization
the use of uttered sounds for auditory communication

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