Where does the word “caterwaul” come from and What does caterwaul mean?

A caterwaul is just the waul or alluring musical call (or howl), musical, presumably, to the female, that is, of a courting tomcat.

Chaucer has the Wife of Bath say, in the Prologue:

“Thow saist thus that 1 was lik a cat;
For who so wolde senge the cattes skyn,
Than wold the catte duellen in his in;
And if the cattes skyn be slyk and gay,
Sche wol not duelle in house half a day;
But forth sche wil, er eny day be dawet,
To schewe hir skyn, and goon a caterwrawet.”

where does the word caterwaul come from and what does caterwaul mean

And the cat with fine clothes, male or female, does the same to this day.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.