• synonyms


[mee-ou, myou]
noun, verb (used without object)
  1. meow.
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Also mi·aou, mi·aul [mee-oul, mee-awl] /miˈaʊl, miˈɔl/.


or mi·aow, mi·aou

[mee-ou, myou]
  1. the characteristic sound a cat makes.
  2. a spiteful or catty remark.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to make the sound of a cat.
  2. to make a spiteful or catty remark.
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Sometimes mi·aul [mee-oul, mee-awl] /miˈaʊl, miˈɔl/.

Origin of meow

First recorded in 1870–75; imitative
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for miaow

Historical Examples

  • A smothered “miaow” and the scratching of claws on wood arrested her attention, and she went hurriedly to the door.


    Kate Douglas Wiggin

  • A less effective precaution is to sit up all night near the vegetable garden and miaow.

  • More, he promptly darted in and sprang upon Anne's lap with a half-pleading, half-triumphant "miaow."

    Anne Of The Island

    Lucy Maud Montgomery

  • A short "miaow," a spitting, and a rush into silence, spoke reassuringly of cats.

British Dictionary definitions for miaow


miaou or miaow miaul (mɪˈaʊl, mjaʊl)

  1. (intr) (of a cat) to make a characteristic crying sound
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  1. an imitation of this sound
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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 miaow



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper