Photo: BEImages/Jim Smeal.
Sometimes, when a person — most often a female, though not exclusively — becomes excited, he or she will emit a high-pitched sound. This is colloquially known as "squealing." Just as whales use sonar to propagate echoes to communicate with each other, a squeal can also contain significant meaning, emotion, or expression. Women (again, not all and not only) make the noise for different reasons and at different times. But, what does the exclamation mean exactly?
After interviewing several "squeal-prone" friends, The Cut's Maureen O'Connor organized squeals into five different categories.
There is, for example, the "Squeal for the Sisterhood." This particular sound expresses "camaraderie, a call-and-response ritual announcing participants’ mutual enthusiasm — and a corollary DGAF attitude toward non-participants." It shouldn't be confused with the "Squeal as Social Lubricant," which is more inclusive, and, as O'Connor writes, is "the vocalized equivalent of buying a round of shots for everyone at the bar." Squeals are just as likely to signal excitement or merriment as they are to indicate secret, barely-suppressed rage.
Squeals, O'Connor points out, contain multitudes.