Definition of dog whistle in English:

dog whistle


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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘How - I ask - without the help of incredibly expensive scientific equipment, do you know whether your dog whistle is working or not?’
    • ‘Blow into it and the sound produced is not unlike that of a dog whistle.’
    • ‘You could even order bird warblers and dog whistles.’
    • ‘Of course we didn't use a dog whistle - it was more like a foghorn.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1usually as modifier A subtly aimed political message which is intended for, and can only be understood by, a particular demographic group.
      ‘dog-whistle issues such as immigration and crime’
      • ‘Equality of opportunity is the leftwing equivalent of a dog-whistle issue.’
      • ‘But the hint that migrant workers are to blame looks like a dog whistle that risks playing into the hands of the far right.’
      • ‘He was party chairman at the 2005 general election when Michael Howard championed so-called "dog whistle" issues such as immigration and Europe.’
      • ‘For immigration is a dog whistle of a different kind for a certain type of Labour supporter.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This will not please some Tory modernisers who detest his hard-nosed tactics and use of so-called "dog whistle" issues.’
      • ‘The dog whistles of his earliest pronouncements have given way to a less alarmist tone.’
      • ‘Thatcher's was true dog-whistle politics, a subtle signal rather than the main message.’
      • ‘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".’
      • ‘Commentators muttered about "dogwhistle politics": the tactic of sending out a message that only those meant to hear would understand.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘The net also plays into the Tories' hands by facilitating the 'dog-whistle' campaigning at which he has become increasingly adept.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But no one was in any doubt about the real dog whistle at the core of the strategy.’
      • ‘This dog whistle may have been missed by his audience, and was certainly neglected by the press, but it resonated in Conservative headquarters.’
      • ‘This isn't even dog-whistle politics - it's simply outright racial fear-mongering.’
      • ‘In Howard's case it's a dog whistle message to blue collar Labor supporters.’