verb (used without object)

verb (used with object)

to express by growling.


the act or sound of growling.
Jazz. the technique of flutter-tonguing.

Origin of growl

1350–1400; Middle English groule to rumble (said of the bowels); cognate with German grollen
Related formsgrowl·ing·ly, adverbun·der·growl, nounun·growl·ing, adjective

Synonym study

2. See complain. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for growl

moan, grunt, howl, rumble, bellow, roar, thunder, grumble, snarl, bark, roll, gnarl, gnarr

Examples from the Web for growl

Contemporary Examples of growl

Historical Examples of growl

  • The voice, too, when he spoke, was as deep and as fierce as the growl of a beast of prey.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • The head-master bowed to the bishop, and walked away, leaving Ketch on the growl.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • They barely raised their heads to growl, and did not answer Pierre's questions.

  • Beyond a growl or a grunt, the dog took its punishment silently.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • This growl he could not suppress; nor did the man-animal resent it by giving him a blow on the head.

    White Fang

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for growl



(of animals, esp when hostile) to utter (sounds) in a low inarticulate mannerthe dog growled at us
to utter (words) in a gruff or angry mannerhe growled an apology
(intr) to make sounds suggestive of an animal growlingthe thunder growled around the lake


the act or sound of growling
jazz an effect resembling a growl, produced at the back of the throat when playing a wind instrument
Derived Formsgrowlingly, adverb

Word Origin for growl

C18: from earlier grolle, from Old French grouller to grumble
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 growl

1660s, from Middle English grollen "to rumble, growl" (early 15c.), from Old French grouler "to rumble," said to be from Frankish; probably ultimately of imitative origin. Related: Growled; growling. The noun is 1727, from the verb.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper