verb (used without object)

to utter the cry of a sheep, goat, or calf or a sound resembling such a cry.

verb (used with object)

to give forth with or as if with a bleat: He bleated his objections in a helpless rage.
to babble; prate.


the cry of a sheep, goat, or calf.
any similar sound: the bleat of distant horns.
foolish, complaining talk; babble: I listened to their inane bleat all evening.

Origin of bleat

before 1000; Middle English bleten, Old English blǣtan; cognate with Dutch blaten, Old High German blāzen; akin to Latin flēre to weep
Related formsbleat·er, nounbleat·ing·ly, adverbout·bleat, verb (used with object) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for bleat

blather, fuss, gripe, cry, whine, bluster, blat, baa, maa

Examples from the Web for bleat

Historical Examples of bleat

  • "I hate all this bleat about the Middle Ages," Gilbert exclaimed.

    Changing Winds

    St. John G. Ervine

  • And as I enter the little village, I am greeted by the bleat of sheep and the low of the kine.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • I heard the bleat of a lamb or kid, and it pierced the melancholy roar of the sea.

  • But though on that evening a basso did bleat, it may be that he was not bubonic.

    The Paliser case

    Edgar Saltus

  • More like the bleat of an innocent calf,” said Roberts—“eh, Bracy?

    Fix Bay'nets

    George Manville Fenn

British Dictionary definitions for bleat



(intr) (of a sheep, goat, or calf) to utter its characteristic plaintive cry
(intr) to speak with any similar sound
to whine; whimper


the characteristic cry of sheep, goats, and young calves
any sound similar to this
a weak complaint or whine
Derived Formsbleater, nounbleating, noun, adjective

Word Origin for bleat

Old English blǣtan; related to Old High German blāzen, Dutch blaten, Latin flēre to weep; see blare
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 bleat

Old English blætan, from West Germanic *bhle- (cf. Dutch blaten "to bleat"), of imitative origin (cf. Greek blekhe "a bleating; the wailing of children," Old Church Slavonic blejat "to bleat," Latin flere "to weep"). Related: Bleated; bleating.


c.1500, from bleat (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper