Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The characteristic cry of a goat or sheep.
  • n. A sound similar to this cry.
  • n. A whining, feeble complaint.
  • intransitive v. To utter the characteristic cry of a goat or sheep.
  • intransitive v. To utter a sound similar to this cry, especially a whine.
  • transitive v. To utter in a whining way.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The characteristic cry of a sheep or a goat.
  • v. Of a sheep or goat, to make its characteristic cry.
  • v. Of a person, to complain.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A plaintive cry of, or like that of, a sheep.
  • intransitive v. To make the noise of, or one like that of, a sheep; to cry like a sheep or calf.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cry as a sheep, goat, or calf; also, as a snipe.
  • n. The cry of a sheep, goat, or calf; also, of a snipe.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the sound of sheep or goats (or any sound resembling this)
  • v. cry plaintively
  • v. talk whiningly

Etymologies

Middle English blet, from bleten, to bleat, from Old English blǣtan.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English bleten, from Old English blǣtan ("to bleat"), from Proto-Germanic *blētijanan (“to bleat”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰlē- (“to howl, cry, bleat”). Cognate with Scots blete, bleit ("to bleat"), Saterland Frisian blēte, blētsje ("to bleat"), Dutch blaten, bleten ("to bleat"), Low German bleten ("to bleat"), German blaßen, blässen ("to bleat"); cf. Greek blekhe, Old Church Slavonic blejat, and also Latin fleō ("cry, weep"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I don't know if you care or not but a great doe bleat is Primos Original Can Doe in estrus

    What's the best grunt call? Please name the brand and name of the call, thank's a lot.

  • This consists in imitating, with a small instrument called a bleat, the cry of the fawn, so as to lure the doe within reach of the rifle.

    A Tour on the Prairies.

  • I say occasionally because the majority of what I tweet (some would say "bleat") covers subjects near and dear to my sophomoric soul: genitals, bowel movements or just plain obscure references to even more obscure behavior both real and fictional that I (and my cadre of equally depraved followers) find amusing.

    Steven Weber: Listen to the Mocking Bird

  • To post on personal matters is a high-risk activity because there is this danger of coming across as woe-is-me and no one wants to read what I've previously described as "bleat".

    Archive 2008-09-01

  • The "bleat" or goat voice, a particular fault of French singers, proceeds from the habit of forcing the voice, which, when it is of small volume, cannot stand the consequent fatigue of the larynx.

    Caruso and Tetrazzini on the Art of Singing

  • There was always a halfpenny underneath the geranium pot in the window-sill for the child whose eye caught sight of the first swallow, redstart or sandpiper; or whose ear first recognised the clarion call of the cuckoo, or the evening "bleat" of the nightjar on the bracken-mantled fells at the end of May.

    More Tales of the Ridings

  • Pretence of any kind was as the red rag; "bleat" was the unpardonable sin; the man who was "human" was the man to be praised.

    Nights Rome, Venice, in the Aesthetic Eighties; London, Paris, in the Fighting Nineties

  • But however that may have been, "bleat" and "human" were the two words ever recurring like a refrain in the columns of the _National Observer_, ever the beginning and end of argument in the heated atmosphere of Buckingham

    Nights Rome, Venice, in the Aesthetic Eighties; London, Paris, in the Fighting Nineties

  • He was still _clicking_ high overhead, but soon alighted silently within twenty yards of where I was standing, and commenced to "bleat," prefacing each

    Birds in the Bush

  • For the first time, too, since the bad weather had set in, was to be heard the incessant bleat which is music to the ears of a New Zealand sheep-farmer.

    Station Amusements

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