verb (used without object)

  1. to utter long wailing cries, as cats in rutting time.
  2. to utter a similar sound; howl or screech.
  3. to quarrel like cats.

noun Also cat·er·waul·ing.

  1. the cry of a cat in rutting time.
  2. any similar sound.

verb (intr)

  1. to make a yowling noise, as a cat on heat


  1. 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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