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

Related Words for moaning

sob, wail, sigh, carp, grumble, gripe, mourn, grieve, bewail, grouse, lament, whine, bemoan, keen, deplore

Examples from the Web for moaning

Contemporary Examples of moaning

Historical Examples of moaning

  • Now the wind came like a wolf down the Murchison Pass, howling and moaning.

  • Whenever the turnkey was coming he was groaning and moaning on the bed.

  • The oak tree beside it stood quieted of its moaning and tossing.

    Bride of the Mistletoe

    James Lane Allen

  • In the most pathetic way she dragged herself after me, moaning and beseeching for help.

    Concerning Cats

    Helen M. Winslow

  • A woman is holding her head and moaning and threatening to faint all over the place.

British Dictionary definitions for moaning



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 moaning



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