or mi·aow, mi·aou

[mee-ou, myou]


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 mi·aul [mee-oul, mee-awl] /miˈaʊl, miˈɔl/.

Origin of meow

First recorded in 1870–75; imitative Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for meow

Historical Examples of meow

  • "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

British Dictionary definitions for meow


miaou or miaow miaul (mɪˈaʊl, mjaʊl)


(intr) (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

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