dog whistle

noun
variants: or less commonly dog-whistle \ ˈdȯg-​ˈ(h)wi-​səl How to pronounce dog-whistle (audio) \

Definition of dog whistle

1 : a whistle to call or direct a dog especially : one sounding at a frequency inaudible to the human ear
2 politics : an expression or statement that has a secondary meaning intended to be understood only by a particular group of people Democrats and liberals sometimes have gone to ridiculous lengths to portray speech by Republicans and conservatives as dog whistles responsible for inciting unstable people to carry out violent acts …The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch … habitually inserts dog-whistles into his speeches to motivate evangelical voters.The Economist often used before another nounThat is the fundamental perversity of 'dog whistle politics', whereby political parties send coded messages that will be heard one way by their core supporters and another way altogether by others.— Robert E. Goodin

Examples of dog whistle in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The dog whistle is always the purity and sanctity of white women, who get to be pure, who get to be holy and who get to be virtuous as mothers. Lyz Lenz, Washington Post, "How America weaponizes motherhood," 30 July 2020 The league’s cowardice became further entrenched when President Donald Trump used the protesting players as a dog whistle to rile up his base. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: NFL's gestures in confronting racism are meaningless so long as Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned," 3 July 2020 Trump's Juneteenth Tulsa rally might have been a mistake — or a racist dog whistle, Joshua Adams writes in an opinion piece. NBC News, "U.S. marks Juneteenth, Dreamers celebrate Supreme Court decision and Trump's Tulsa rally," 18 June 2020 Monday was not the first time Jiang addressed dog whistles at the White House. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "Trump Abruptly Ends Press Conference After Telling Asian Reporter To Ask China Her Question," 12 May 2020 But even in those societies run by less nakedly reactionary governments, the dog whistle and the assimilationist value-grab remain sturdy tools of everyday policymaking. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, "Making Life Cheap," 18 May 2020 Tying coronavirus to China and Chinese people isn't just a racist dog whistle. Lydia Wang, refinery29.com, "Late-Night Shows From Seth Meyers To Samantha Bee Go Dark During Coronavirus Pandemic," 14 Mar. 2020 Tying coronavirus to China and Chinese people isn't just a racist dog whistle. Lydia Wang, refinery29.com, "Late-Night Shows From Seth Meyers To Samantha Bee Go Dark During Coronavirus Pandemic," 14 Mar. 2020 Tying coronavirus to China and Chinese people isn't just a racist dog whistle. Lydia Wang, refinery29.com, "Late-Night Shows From Seth Meyers To Samantha Bee Go Dark During Coronavirus Pandemic," 14 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dog whistle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dog whistle

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of dog whistle was in 1801

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Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dog whistle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dog%20whistle. Accessed 15 Aug. 2020.

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