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  1. the tiny, high-pitched sound a cat or kitten makes.
  2. the characteristic sound a gull makes.
verb (used without object)
  1. to make a mew or emit a similar sound.

Origin of mew1

1275–1325; Middle English meuen; imitative
Can be confusedmews muse


  1. a cage for hawks, especially while molting.
  2. a pen in which poultry is fattened.
  3. a place of retirement or concealment.
  4. mews, (usually used with a singular verb) Chiefly British.
    1. (formerly) an area of stables built around a small street.
    2. a street having small apartments converted from such stables.
verb (used with object)
  1. Archaic. to shut up in or as in a mew; confine; conceal (often followed by up).

Origin of mew3

1325–75; Middle English mue < Middle French, akin to muer to molt. See mew4


verb (used with or without object)
  1. to shed (feathers); to molt.

Origin of mew4

1325–75; Middle English mewen < Old French muer to molt < Latin mūtāre to change
Related formsmew·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mewing

Historical Examples

  • There seems to be a playful allusion in these words to mewian and cath, the mewing of a cat.

    Y Gododin


  • Mewing is for the most part only shouting without saying any words.

    The Five Jars

    Montague Rhodes James

  • I know all the tabbies in the town have been mewing about us.

    The Rough Road

    William John Locke

  • There was no sound but the purr of machinery and the mewing of gulls in the distance.

    Mistress Anne

    Temple Bailey

  • She was seen going about mewing disconsolately for her young ones.

British Dictionary definitions for mewing


  1. (intr) (esp of a cat) to make a characteristic high-pitched cry
  1. such a sound

Word Origin

C14: imitative


  1. any seagull, esp the common gull, Larus canusAlso called: mew gull, sea mew

Word Origin

Old English mǣw; compare Old Saxon mēu, Middle Dutch mēwe


  1. a room or cage for hawks, esp while moulting
  1. (tr often foll by up) to confine (hawks or falcons) in a shelter, cage, etc, usually by tethering them to a perch
  2. to confine, conceal

Word Origin

C14: from Old French mue, from muer to moult, from Latin mūtāre to change


  1. (intr) (of hawks or falcons) to moult
  2. (tr) obsolete to shed (one's covering, clothes, etc)

Word Origin

C14: from Old French muer to moult, from Latin mūtāre to change
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

Word Origin and History for mewing



"make a sound like a cat," early 14c., mewen, of imitative origin (cf. German miauen, French miauler, Italian miagolare, Spanish maullar, and see meow). Related: Mewed; mewing. As a noun from 1590s.



"seagull," Old English mæw, from Proto-Germanic *maigwis (cf. Old Saxon mew, Frisian meau, Middle Dutch and Middle Low German mewe, Dutch meeuw "gull"), imitative of its cry. Old French moue (Modern French mouette) and Lithuanian mevas are Germanic loan-words.



"cage," c.1300, from Old French mue "cage for hawks, especially when molting," from muer "to molt," from Latin mutare "to change" (see mutable).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper