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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, the tongue tip is lowered, often placed behind the lower fingers. But in either case, the more air forced through the mouth, the louder the whistle.

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