Definitions

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

  • n. A cage for hawks, especially when molting.
  • n. A secret place; a hideaway.
  • n. A group of buildings originally containing private stables, often converted into residential apartments.
  • n. A small street, alley, or courtyard on which such buildings stand.
  • transitive v. To confine in or as if in a cage.
  • intransitive v. To molt. Used of a hawk.
  • intransitive v. To make the high-pitched, crying sound of a cat; meow.
  • n. The crying sound of a cat; a meow.
  • n. A seagull (Larus canus) of northern Eurasia and northwest North America.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A gull, seagull.
  • n. A prison, or other place of confinement.
  • n. A hiding-place; a secret store or den.
  • n. A cage for hawks, especially while moulting.
  • n. A building or set of buildings where moulting birds are kept.
  • v. To shut away, confine, lock up.
  • v. To moult.
  • n. The crying sound of a cat; a meow.
  • v. To meow.
  • interj. A cat's cry.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A gull, esp. the common British species (Larus canus); called also sea mew, maa, mar, mow, and cobb.
  • n. A cage for hawks while mewing; a coop for fattening fowls; hence, any inclosure; a place of confinement or shelter; -- in the latter sense usually in the plural.
  • n. A stable or range of stables for horses; -- compound used in the plural, and so called from the royal stables in London, built on the site of the king's mews for hawks.
  • n. The common cry of a cat.
  • intransitive v. To cast the feathers; to molt; hence, to change; to put on a new appearance.
  • intransitive v. To cry as a cat.
  • transitive v. To shed or cast; to change; to molt.
  • transitive v. To shut up; to inclose; to confine, as in a cage or other inclosure.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cry as a cat.
  • To change (the covering or dress); especially, to shed, as feathers; molt.
  • To shut up; confine, as in a cage or other inclosure; immure.
  • An obsolete or dialectal preterit of mow.
  • n. A gull; a sea-mew. See cut under gull.
  • n. The cry of a cat.
  • n. A cage for birds while mewing or molting; hence, any cage or coop for birds, especially for hawks.
  • n. Hence An inclosure; a close place; a place of retirement or confinement.
  • n. A place where fowls were confined for fattening.
  • n. plural A stable. See mews.
  • n. A dialectal variant of mow.
  • n. The herb spignel.

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

  • v. utter a high-pitched cry, as of seagulls
  • v. cry like a cat
  • n. the sound made by a cat (or any sound resembling this)
  • n. the common gull of Eurasia and northeastern North America

Etymologies

Middle English meue, from Old French mue, from muer, to molt, from Latin mūtāre, to change.
Middle English meuen, of imitative origin.
Middle English meue, from Old English mǣw, mēu.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English mewe, from Old English mǣw, from Proto-Germanic *maihwaz, *maiwaz (“seagull”) (compare West Frisian meau, mieu, Dutch meeuw, German Möwe), from *maiwijanan 'to shout, mew' (compare Middle English mawen 'to shout, mew', Middle Dutch mauwen, Middle High German māwen); akin to Latvian maût 'to roar', Old Church Slavonic myjati 'to mew'. (Wiktionary)
From Anglo-Norman mue, muwe, and Middle French mue ("shedding feathers; cage for moulting birds; prison"), from muer ("to moult"). (Wiktionary)
Onomatopoeic (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • September 26th, 2005 at 1: 39 am boo hoo baby its not our fault you are useless im in mew nealand and it works for me anyone can build a computer its a lot easier than configering your windows system one would think took me all of 30 sec

    WinMX returns: Grazie P2PZone!

  • The seagull is also known as the mew, likewise an imitative name.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XXIII No 3

  • The critic Christopher Ricks has pointed out that "mew" rather than the more correct "mews" is in fact an archaic word for "cage."

    Beckett: Still Stirring

  • [3] Beckett's French translation of Murphy gives the "mew" in West Brompton as "l'impasse de l'Enfant Jésus," introducing a Christian reference into the city grid.

    Beckett: Still Stirring

  • The cat goes around meekly, crying "mew," while the rest dance around her.

    Games For All Occasions

  • I again affirm that I need make no apology for attaching my name to that of one so worthy the esteem of his co-dogs, ay, and co-cats too; for in spite of the differences which have so often raised up a barrier between the members of his race and ours, not even the noblest among us could be degraded by raising a "mew" to the honour of such a thoroughly honest dog.

    The Adventures of a Dog, and a Good Dog Too

  • As a rule, the gelded cat does not "mew" to make known his wants, but employs his voice for conversational purposes.

    Concerning Cats My Own and Some Others

  • A starved kitten, which shapes out of nothing and is there complete and instantaneous at your feet -- ginger stripes, and a mew which is weak, but a veritable voice of the living -- is first

    Old Junk

  • It gave a frightened "mew," but a single shake cut that short and would have ended Kitty's nine lives at once, had not the negro come to the rescue.

    Animal Heroes

  • The next morning, figure my horror! to hear a plaintive 'mew' outside my door.

    Selections from the Letters of Geraldine Endsor Jewsbury to Jane Welsh Carlyle

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • High Summer. He heard through the open door
    a buzzard mew on an aloof thermal.

    - Peter Reading, Ménage à Trois, from The Prison Cell & Barrel Mystery, 1976

    June 23, 2008

  • Also to confine, as in a cage or pen.

    March 19, 2008