More than that. It's a word. Humans hear language as words. "C" and "Q" have no meaning. "CQ" does. The spoken "seek-you" is a word/phrase on phone. _._. _ _._ is a word in CW with exactly the same meaning.
It's a simple example of what the fastest and most adept operators do. If you hear words, rather than letters, you can just let the meaning flow into your head. I could speak to you "N O W I S T H E," speaking each letter. If I went on any longer, you'd quickly lose the meaning (which is why we spell to hide meaning from children), unless you wrote it down as I went and went back and read it again. If I say, "now is the," you take it in effortlessly and can go on listening indefinitely, just as you do in conversation, and will retain the meaning without writing anything.
I suppose we could put together a list of the most commonly used words and phrases in routine QSO's, to the end of learning to hear those as words. Sort of like what appears at the end of this article:http://w6rec.com/duane/amateur/cw.htm
As the author says, if you tell me you can copy "CQ" at 35 WPM, you're telling me you can copy Morse at 35 WPM, but you just need a larger vocabulary.