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A meow /miˈ/, also spelled miaow, is the most familiar vocalization of cats. A meow can be assertive, plaintive, friendly, bold, welcoming, attention soliciting, demanding, or complaining. It can even be silent, where the cat opens its mouth but does not vocalize. Adult cats do not meow to each other, and so adult meowing to human beings is likely to be a post-domestication extension of mewing by kittens.[1]


In English, the first use of the spelling "meow" was in 1842. Before that, the word could be spelled "miaow," "miau," or "meaw." [2]

Language differences[edit]

Different languages have correspondingly different words for the "meow" sound, including miau (Belarusian, Croatian, Hungarian, Finnish, Lithuanian, Malay, German, Polish, Russian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Ukrainian), mňau (Czech), meong (Indonesian), njäu (Estonian), niau (Ukrainian), niaou (νιάου,[3] Greek), miaou (French), nyā (ニャー, Japanese), miao (, Mandarin Chinese, Italian), miav/miao or mjav/mjau (Danish, Swedish and Norwegian), mjá (Icelandic), ya-ong (야옹, Korean), میاؤں / Miyāʾūṉ (Urdu),[4] miaŭ (Esperanto)[5] and meo-meo (Vietnamese).[6] In some languages (such as Chinese 貓, māo), the vocalization became the name of the animal itself.


  1. ^ "Meowing and Yowling". Virtual Pet Behaviorist. ASPCA. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Meow". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 27 December 2015. 
  3. ^ νιαουρίζω. Word Reference (in Greek). Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  4. ^ فیروز الدین‏, مولوی‏. فیروز اللغات اردو جامع (in Urdu) (2nd ed.). Lahore: Feroz Sons, Ltd. p. 1334. ISBN 9690005146. 
  5. ^ "miaŭ". Vikivortaro (in Esperanto). Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Peggy Bivens (2002). Language Arts 1, Volume 1. Saddleback Publishing. p. 59. ISBN 978-1562-54508-6.