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to utter long wailing cries, as cats in rutting time.
to utter a similar sound; howl or screech.
to quarrel like cats.
the cry of a cat in rutting time.
any similar sound.
Contemporary Examples

To be sure, there was plenty of Democratic caterwauling about the Reagan budget.
Burning Down the House: A Little History Michael Tomasky June 6, 2012

Historical Examples

“Like the caterwauling of erotic cats on a midnight roof,” said he.
Painted Veils James Huneker

Why, sir, all that caterwauling and stamping was to hide what they were about.
The Black Bar George Manville Fenn

You will see about a decent funeral, Edwards; and I will leave you something to stop the mouth of that caterwauling landlady.
Sunrise William Black

And his wife is one of the most brazen she-devils that ever joined a caterwauling!
The Pilgrim’s Shell or Fergan the Quarryman Eugne Sue

caterwauling, applied derisively to inharmonious singing; also love-making, from the noise of cats similarly engaged.
The Slang Dictionary John Camden Hotten

I knew what all this singing and caterwauling would lead to: I said so from the first, and my words have come true.
The Quiver 12/1899 Anonymous

All at once I missed the howling, and the caterwauling grew wilder.
Lilith George MacDonald

Well-educated youths of good family treat me one night to a serenade of caterwauling in my corridor.
Legends August Strindberg

An orchestra of tongs and bones, like the braying of asses or the caterwauling of cats in February, performs the overture.
The Memoirs of Count Carlo Gozzi; Volume the first Count Carlo Gozzi

verb (intransitive)
to make a yowling noise, as a cat on heat
a shriek or yell made by or sounding like a cat on heat

late 14c., caterwrawen, perhaps from Low German katerwaulen “cry like a cat,” or formed in English from cater, from Middle Dutch cater “tomcat” + Middle English waul “to yowl,” apparently from Old English *wrag, *wrah “angry,” of uncertain origin but all somehow imitative. Related: Caterwauled; caterwauling.


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