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ˈblēt How to pronounce bleat (audio)
 Northern also  ˈblat,
 Southern usually  ˈblāt
bleated; bleating; bleats

intransitive verb

: to make the natural cry of a sheep or goat
also : to utter a similar sound
: to talk complainingly or with a whine

transitive verb

: to utter in a bleating manner
bleater noun


2 of 2


: the cry of a sheep or goat
also : a similar sound
the bleat of a cell phone
: a feeble outcry, protest, or complaint

Examples of bleat in a Sentence

Verb The lamb bleated as I approached. “But why can't I go?” she bleated. The labor union is always bleating about the management. Noun a very patient, understanding person who accepts life's inconveniences without a bleat
Recent Examples on the Web
My phone is always bleating with its outro sound effect. New York Times, 19 Apr. 2024 Formed at Columbia University in 2006, the band made perky, bleating indie rock about Cape Cod, mansard roofs, and Oxford commas. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, 1 Apr. 2024 Nevertheless, Moscow bleated in protest to such an extent that the Obama administration withdrew in 2009 a Bush-era pledge to provide Poland and the Czech Republic with radar and interceptor installations aimed at protecting their territories not from nuclear but from conventional attack. Noah Rothman, National Review, 9 Feb. 2024 Handcrafted, the little critter responded to speech and touch by bleating—it was programmed with actual seal pup cries—closing its eyes, and flipping its tail and flippers. Kat McGowan, WIRED, 4 Jan. 2024 Bricks were sometimes tossed into the playground by local children bleating slurs. Giles Harvey, New York Times, 19 Dec. 2023 The Cycladic island of Ios is a rocky, mountainous environment of winding roads sometimes blocked by herds of bleating goats and sleepy villages hugging cerulean coastlines. Devorah Lev-Tov, Condé Nast Traveler, 14 Nov. 2023 Corporate America’s 2020 rallying cries for racial equity and social justice have since turned into a bleating whimper. Ruth Umoh, Fortune, 4 Oct. 2023 But on a recent summer evening, the air filled with the sound of bleating goats and the scent of fried dough, there were few restrictions. Lindsay Crudele,, 3 Aug. 2023
While does and young deer utter a sheep-like bleat to communicate with each other, this sound is relatively quiet; under most conditions, these sounds are audible from only a short distance. Scott Bestul, Field & Stream, 28 Sep. 2023 This phase is the perfect time to get your hands on a grunt tube, a bleat can, and rattling antlers—and be ready to use them. Scott Bestul, Field & Stream, 6 Sep. 2023 Tesla for a time included in its vehicles the ability to replace the humming noises that electric cars must emit—since their engines make little sound—with goat bleats, farting, or a sound of the owner’s choice. Ronan Farrow, The New Yorker, 21 Aug. 2023 Buoys in the water bleat. John Branch, New York Times, 14 Sep. 2022 The orchestration was dense but not overcrowded, and the sonic palette gave it an otherworldly quality that was sometimes dreamlike, sometimes nightmarish — here the hollow sound of a cimbalom and a hushed ripple of winds, there the infernal bleat of a contrabass trombone. Globe Staff,, 9 Aug. 2022 That’s when Bagley made a doe bleat. Matt Williams, Dallas News, 29 Jan. 2021 Engineering automotive sound, whether the bland bleat of a commuter car or the expressive rumble of a sports car, is a delicate balance. Jaclyn Trop, Discover Magazine, 8 Aug. 2020 The biographer gave out what could pass for a happy bleat. Cynthia Ozick, The New Yorker, 7 Mar. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bleat.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English bleten, from Old English blǣtan; akin to Latin flēre to weep, Old English bellan to roar — more at bellow

First Known Use


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1508, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bleat was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near bleat

Cite this Entry

“Bleat.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
: to utter a bleat or similar sound
: to speak in a bleating way


2 of 2 noun
: the characteristic cry of a sheep or goat

More from Merriam-Webster on bleat

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