Saturday, October 30, 2010


Caterwaul \KAR-uhr-wawl\, intransitive verb;
1. To make a harsh cry
2. To have a noisy argument
1. A shrill, discordant sound

I have a feeling this one somehow relates to cat + wail...

According to
The modern form of this word comes from caterwrawen, which dates to the late 14th century, and probably derives from Middle Dutch cater- ("tomcat") + Middle English waul ("to yowl"). Waul comes from Old English *wrag or *wrah meaning "angry."
The Oxford English Dictionary's etymology of this word is somewhat more involved. First, the noun apparently came from the verb, and the verb has occurred in various forms: caterwrawe, -wawe, -wrawl(e), -wawle, -waul. Wrawren, wrawlen, and wraule appeared as independent verbs and were applied to cats, squalling children, and the like. The reason that there is so much variation in this word (and that its etymology isn't very clear) is because the word probably started out as an onomatopoeia and was eventually adopted as a regular word. There is a long list of Proto-Indo-European-derived words that are similar to waul and its variations that all have similar meanings. The OED corroborates's derivation of cater, but adds that it may have also existed in Old English, but there's no real way of proving that with the information we have.

*Today's word and the first definition were both taken from's 'Word of the Day' for Saturday, October 30

No comments:

Post a Comment