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Wolf-whistling or finger whistling is a type of whistling in which fingers are inserted in the mouth to produce a louder and more penetrating tone.

A wolf-whistle is a two-toned sound (like 'whip-woo') commonly made using the above technique to show high interest or approval of something or someone (originally a young girl or woman thought to be physically/sexually attractive).[1] Today, in English-speaking countries, wolf-whistling is considered a form of sexual harassment.[2][3][4]

According to Adam Edwards of Daily Express, the wolf-whistle originates from the navy General Call made with a boatswain's pipe. The general call is made on a ship to get the attention of all hands for an announcement. Sailors in harbour would whistle the general call upon seeing a sexy, attractive woman in order to draw fellow sailors' attention to her. It was eventually picked up by passers-by, not knowing the real meaning of the whistle, and passed on.[5][better source needed] Doubt was cast upon this explanation by lexicographer Grant Barrett who noted that it was very thinly supported during a 2015 broadcast of A Way with Words.[6]


Although the "wolf-whistle" or "wolf-call" sound can be produced using a conventional whistling technique, it can also involve the insertion of one or more fingers into the mouth, with the shaped frame allowing a forceful stream of air to be blown through. But in either case, the more air forced through the mouth, the louder the whistle.

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