Definition of dog whistle in English:

dog whistle


  • 1A high-pitched whistle used to train dogs, typically having a sound inaudible to humans.

    ‘He kept blowing a dog whistle in a fruitless attempt to coax Molly out.’
    • ‘Similar in concept to a dog whistle, it alters the report to an ultrasonic pitch the human ear cannot detect.’
    • ‘You could even order bird warblers and dog whistles.’
    • ‘Of course we didn't use a dog whistle - it was more like a foghorn.’
    • ‘How - I ask - without the help of incredibly expensive scientific equipment, do you know whether your dog whistle is working or not?’
    • ‘And the dog whistles are usually in the vicinity of about 40,000 hertz, which is, you know, out of our hearing range but well within the dog's hearing range.’
    • ‘Blow into it and the sound produced is not unlike that of a dog whistle.’
    • ‘X rays are light emitted at much higher frequencies than humans can see, in the same way as a dog whistle blows at a frequency that is beyond the sensitivity of the human ear.’
    1. 1.1usually as modifier A subtly aimed political message which is intended for, and can only be understood by, a particular group.
      ‘dog-whistle issues such as immigration and crime’
      • ‘Equality of opportunity is the leftwing equivalent of a dog-whistle issue.’
      • ‘The net also plays into the Tories' hands by facilitating the 'dog-whistle' campaigning at which he has become increasingly adept.’
      • ‘Thatcher's was true dog-whistle politics, a subtle signal rather than the main message.’
      • ‘In Howard's case it's a dog whistle message to blue collar Labor supporters.’
      • ‘He was party chairman at the 2005 general election when Michael Howard championed so-called "dog whistle" issues such as immigration and Europe.’
      • ‘This isn't even dog-whistle politics - it's simply outright racial fear-mongering.’
      • ‘Commentators muttered about "dogwhistle politics": the tactic of sending out a message that only those meant to hear would understand.’
      • ‘This will not please some Tory modernisers who detest his hard-nosed tactics and use of so-called "dog whistle" issues.’
      • ‘What was striking about her reasons for voting Conservative was that, without any prompting, she chose two of Mr Howard's "dog whistle" issues.’
      • ‘If dog whistle campaigning works, how many people are considering changing their vote as a result?’
      • ‘A dog-whistle election campaign is not the same as a strategy for transforming Britain.’
      • ‘He has pledged to tackle immigration, law and order and discipline in schools - all the so-called "dog whistle" issues with which Howard called the Tory faithful back to the fold.’
      • ‘For immigration is a dog whistle of a different kind for a certain type of Labour supporter.’
      • ‘The dog whistles of his earliest pronouncements have given way to a less alarmist tone.’
      • ‘But no one was in any doubt about the real dog whistle at the core of the strategy.’
      • ‘But the hint that migrant workers are to blame looks like a dog whistle that risks playing into the hands of the far right.’
      • ‘She nailed the point of why the Government was holding such an Inquiry, describing it as "dog whistle politics to men's groups aggrieved by the Family Court".’
      • ‘This dog whistle may have been missed by his audience, and was certainly neglected by the press, but it resonated in Conservative headquarters.’
      • ‘Mr Norris added that modernisers who felt uneasy about the party's focus on "dog whistle" issues such as asylum may struggle to criticise the leadership.’