dog whistle

(redirected from a dog-whistle)

dog whistle

1. noun Literally, a whistle that emits sound at a frequency so high that it can be heard by dogs but not humans. The dogs all started howling at the sound of the trainer's dog whistle.
2. noun By extension, a word or phrase specifically used to convey an innocuous meaning to the general audience while conveying or suggesting a different, often controversial, message to the target audience. Especially used in politics. He's using that term as a dog whistle to signal to his base what his values really are.
3. noun The tactic of using such a term. His use of the term is clearly a dog whistle intended to rally his base.
4. adjective Describing such a term or tactic. When used as an adjective, the phrase is commonly hyphenated. Allusions to issues like race are commonly couched in dog-whistle terms to appeal to certain blocs of voters while going unnoticed by others.
See also: dog, whistle
References in periodicals archive ?
Referring to Prime Minister Gordon Brown's speech at Labour's conference last week - which contained not a single mention of Mr Cameron - the Tory leader will say, "It was a carefully calculated pitch to the 4% of voters in the middle who might switch this way or that, a dog-whistle here, a dog-whistle there.