Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Mar 10 03:50:09 UTC 2007

This is in the OED Wordhunt on-line: "predate 1952".

[AFAIK, though, the Wordhunt page is not routinely updated (please correct
me if necessary!), so if I spend a couple hours digging up a few examples
from 1951 it'll probably be no more than an annoyance to the OED folks who
have already received 500 citations dating back to before the Norman Conquest.]

I find "wolf-whistle" all over the newspapers in 1944 (but not 1943).

I find "wolf call" in apparently the same sense from the same period, in
fact a little earlier, 1942.

I don't know whether "wolf call" at that time *generally* meant a whistle
or whether it also covered other sounds of appreciation such as "ah-ooo"
wolf-howl imitations.

Anyway, I guess "wolf call" much earlier meant a call characteristic of a
wolf (made by a wolf or made in imitation of a wolf) (standard "wolf"
meaning a canine animal). "Wolf Call" (Jack London novel, I think) appeared
as a movie in 1939.

I suppose if a whistle (or some other sound) was thought to be
characteristic of a wolf (male human type) it might have been humorously
termed a "wolf call" very naturally, with later [partial?] replacement by
"wolf whistle" for specificity.

Somebody probably knows better.

-- Doug Wilson

No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.5.446 / Virus Database: 268.18.8/716 - Release Date: 3/9/2007 6:53 PM

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list