verb (used without object)

to utter moans, as of pain or grief.
(of the wind, sea, trees, etc.) to make any sound suggestive of such moans: The wind moaned through the trees.

verb (used with object)

to utter (something) inarticulately or pitifully, as if in lamentation: He moaned his response.
to lament or bemoan: to moan one's fate.

Origin of moan

1175–1225; Middle English mone, man(e) (noun), Old English *mān, inferred from its derivative mǣnan to mourn
Related formsmoan·ful, adjectivemoan·ful·ly, adverbmoan·ing·ly, adverbun·moaned, adjectiveun·moan·ing, adjective

Synonyms for moan

1. See groan. 4. grieve. 4, 7. mourn. 7. deplore. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for moan

Contemporary Examples of moan

Historical Examples of moan

  • Before she had laughed at the weird complaining; now it sounded like a moan of misery.


    W. A. Fraser

  • Not a sound was heard but the moan of an occasional gust of wind.

  • The wood followed us with a moan which was gathering to a roar.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • Let her moan and groan and sigh away there—what did it matter!

    Salted With Fire

    George MacDonald

  • Thereupon Macquart, seeing that he was about to be paid, began to moan.

British Dictionary definitions for moan



a low prolonged mournful sound expressive of suffering or pleading
any similar mournful sound, esp that made by the wind
a grumble or complaint


to utter (words) in a low mournful manner
(intr) to make a sound like a moan
(usually intr) to grumble or complain (esp in the phrase moan and groan)
Derived Formsmoaner, nounmoanful, adjectivemoaning, noun, adjectivemoaningly, adverb

Word Origin for moan

C13: related to Old English mǣnan to grieve over
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 moan

c.1200, "lamentation, mourning, weeping; complaining, the expressing of complaints; a complaint; lover's complaint; accusation, charge," probably from an unrecorded Old English *man "complaint," related to Old English mænan "complain, moan," also "tell, intend, signify" (see mean (v.1)); but OED discounts this connection. Meaning "long, low inarticulate murmur from some prolonged pain" is first recorded 1670s, "with onomatopoeic suggestion" [OED].


mid-13c., "mourn (someone); regret, bewail;" c.1300, "to lament, grieve; utter moans;" probably from Old English *manan, related to mænan "to lament" (see moan (n.)). From 1724 as "to make a low, mournful sound." Related: Moaned; moaning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper