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or miaow, miaou

[mee-ou, myou] /miˈaʊ, myaʊ/
the characteristic sound a cat makes.
a spiteful or catty remark.
verb (used without object)
to make the sound of a cat.
to make a spiteful or catty remark.
Sometimes, miaul [mee-oul, mee-awl] /miˈaʊl, miˈɔl/ (Show IPA).
Origin of meow
First recorded in 1870-75; imitative Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for meow
Historical Examples
  • "meow," my father said, and I believed my heart broke then and there.

    My Father, the Cat Henry Slesar
  • He would bleed her, and his French—la, my cat can meow better French.

    The Red City

    S. Weir Mitchell
  • "They meow and cry like everything on the back fence," said the third fiddler.

  • That is what dogs do when they bay at the moon, cats when they meow, and the birds when they sing.

    Musical Memories Camille Saint-Sans
  • But if Wright did not understand me, as I hoped he would not, my husband did, and his inevitable "meow!"

    Mavis of Green Hill Faith Baldwin
  • Why, if they wanted to stand on their heads and meow like cats, I would bark an accompaniment cause I like them so.

    Living Up to Billy Elizabeth Cooper
  • Then at its highest and loudest there was a prolonged "meow" and silence, followed finally by the sweet chant of the Song-sparrow.

    Two Little Savages

    Ernest Thompson Seton
  • He "meow'd" with caution once or twice, as he went; then jumped to the roof of the woodshed and thence to the ground.

    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Complete Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • The Persian gave a meow of greeting, then walked up and rubbed against Barby's legs.

  • She was talking very fast,—in her meow talk, you know,—and behind her stood Mother Sue with the kitten in her mouth.

    Little Mitchell Margaret W. Morley
British Dictionary definitions for meow


/mɪˈaʊ; mjaʊ/
(intransitive) (of a cat) to make a characteristic crying sound
an imitation of this sound
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for meow

representation of cat sound, 1842, earlier miaow, miau, meaw (1630s). Of imitative origin, cf. French miaou, German miauen, Persian maw, Japanese nya nya, Arabic nau-nau, and Joyce's mrkgnao. In Chinese, miau means "cat." As a verb by 1630s, meaw, also meawle. Cf. Old French miauer "to meow, caterwaul." Related: Meowed; meowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for meow


Related Terms

the cat's meow

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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