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howl +‎ -er. Some senses are derivatives of the intensifier "howling",[1] as in "howling wilderness", (Deuteronomy 32:10)[2]



howler (plural howlers)

  1. That which howls, especially an animal such as a wolf or a howler monkey.
  2. (historical) A person hired to howl at a funeral.
  3. (slang) A painfully obvious mistake.
    • 1993, Paul Krugman, How I Work, October 1 1993, in: Paul Krugman, Arguing with Zombies, 2020, p. 402:
      Given what we know about cognitive psychology, utility maximization is a ludicrous concept; equilibrium pretty foolish outside of financial markets; perfect competition a howler for most industries.
    • 2009, Tom Burton, Quadrant, November 2009, No. 461 (Volume LIII, Number 11), Quadrant Magazine Limited, page 78:
      A howler is a glaring mistake, a mistake that cries out to be noticed.
  4. (slang) A hilarious joke.
  5. (slang) A bitterly cold day.
  6. (psychology) A person who expresses aggression openly in the form of threats.
    Coordinate term: hunter
    • 2008, J. Reid Meloy, Lorraine Sheridan, Jens Hoffmann, Stalking, Threatening, and Attacking Public Figures (page 121)
      Although their behavior does not have the same impact as hunters, howlers nevertheless distract the public figure and compel security and law enforcement []
    • 2015, Steve Albrecht, Library Security: Better Communication, Safer Facilities
      Hunters stalk their targets, make detailed plans, acquire and practice with weapons, and try to hurt or kill people. Howlers make bomb threats to schools, malls, churches, businesses, and government offices.
  7. (sometimes figuratively) A heavy fall.
  8. (slang) A serious accident (especially to come a howler or go a howler; compare come a cropper).
    Our hansom came a howler.
  9. (slang) A tremendous lie; a whopper.
  10. (slang, dated) A fashionably but extravagantly overdressed man, a "howling swell".
  11. (historical) A 32-ounce ceramic, plastic, or stainless steel jug used to transport draft beer.

Derived termsEdit



  1. ^ Beale, Paul; Partridge, Eric (1984). A dictionary of slang and unconventional English: colloquialisms and catch-phrases, solecisms and catachreses, nicknames, and vulgarisms. New York: Macmillan. →ISBN
  2. ^ Holy Bible: King James Version, The Scofield Study Bible III, Duradera Zipper Black. Oxford University Press, USA. 2005. →ISBN.