"make a disagreeable howling or screeching," like that of a cat in heat, late 14c., caterwrawen, perhaps from Low German katerwaulen "cry like a cat," or else formed in English from cater, from Middle Dutch cater "tomcat" + Middle English waul "to yowl," which is apparently from Old English *wrag, *wrah "angry," a word of uncertain origin but somehow imitative. The first element is, in some language, cat (n.). Related: Caterwauled; caterwauling. As a noun from 1708.
updated on November 13, 2022