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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 small gull, Larus canus, of Eurasia and northwestern North America.

Origin of mew2

before 900; Middle English; Old English mǣwe; cognate with German Müwe
Also called mew gull.


  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 mews

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • At length as they wandered they came to a part where seemed to be only small houses and mews.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • By now the mews had wakened to the fact of the presence of a "toff" in its midst.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • It was the first she had heard of the mews behind Ducie Street.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • The delightful Charley mounted again to take the two horses round to the mews.


    Joseph Conrad

  • It was an intense relief to speak to some one who could understand his mews.

    The Magic World

    Edith Nesbit

British Dictionary definitions for mews


noun (functioning as singular or plural) mainly British
  1. a yard or street lined by buildings originally used as stables but now often converted into dwellings
  2. the buildings around a mews
  3. informal an individual residence in a mews

Word Origin

C14: pl of mew ³, originally referring to royal stables built on the site of hawks' mews at Charing Cross in London


  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 mews


"stables grouped around an open yard," 1630s, from Mewes, name of the royal stables at Charing Cross, built 1534 on the site of the former royal mews (attested from late 14c.), where the king's hawks were kept (see mew (n.2)). Extended by 1805 to "street of former stables converted to human habitations."



"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

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