Catcall is an interesting closed compound word that has been in use since the mid-1600s. A closed compound word is composed of two words joined together without a space. We will examine the definition of catcall, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Originally, the word catcall referred to whistles or jeers at a public forum or a public performance, indicating disapproval or anger. While still used to mean jeers in a public forum, the word catcall has evolved to also mean loud whistles or lewd comments made by a man and directed at a woman as she walks down the street. While some men consider this type of catcall a compliment, women generally consider it threatening. Catcall is used as a noun or a verb, related words are catcalls, catcalled, catcalling. Note that the Oxford English Dictionary only lists the one-word spelling.


It should be abnormal that harassment quietly gets normalised – like, lighten up, lah, it’s just a catcall here, a car honk there, an arm around everywhere. (The Straits Times)

Things like a catcall, which wouldn’t bother me in and of itself, can now drag me back into dark burning memories. (The Dominion Post)

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who trounced Mr. Crowley, a longtime and powerful member of Congress from Queens, likened the offer to catcalling — the practice of whistling or making unwanted comments to women who pass by on the street. (The New York Times)

Catcalling, the practice of unwanted whistling, hooting or comments of a sexual nature regarding the body of someone walking by, is the root of street harassment and an issue that affects women most prevalently in their youth. (The Santa Monica Daily Press)

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