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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


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

Example Sentences

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
For decades, conservative Republicans have posed as the party of chest-thumping ultra-patriots who bleat constantly about how America is the best country on the planet. Ryan Cooper, The Week, 9 Aug. 2021 Watching smug, satisfied 1 percenters bleat on about their unlimited financial options is about as welcome as a wet teddy bear., 6 July 2021 She was booted from her GOP leadership spot for refusing to go along with her reprobate and deceitful Republican colleagues, who continue to lay prostrate before former President Donald Trump and bleat that the election was stolen from him. Mika Brzezinski, NBC News, 17 May 2021 On the small farm that Alberto Barroso runs a few miles from his apartment, the sprightly stems of potatoes and onions peek through fresh soil; his hundreds of goats bleat into the clean air. Colette Davidson, The Christian Science Monitor, 12 Mar. 2021 The New York Times will bellow and bleat, And the silence will echo down Mulberry Street. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 3 Mar. 2021 Even those inside that didn’t come out must have heard the truck horns moaning, the air brakes bleating, the hymn of an industrial funeral. New York Times, 31 Mar. 2020 The buck bleated several times but soon stopped struggling. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 14 Mar. 2020 The season opens with the faintest noise: A single French horn bleats a plaintive melody while a platoon of hoary men from the Royal Mail service, all wearing dark suits, shuffles into a stateroom in Buckingham Palace. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, 12 Dec. 2019
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 In the nine-episode first season—filmed mostly in Troy, New York—viewers hear sheep bleat in Central Park, watch workers sweep away ceaselessly accumulating street dust and listen to the crackling of interior fires. Kimberly Hamlin, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 Jan. 2022 The 93rd Academy Awards ended not with a bang but a bleat. Glenn Whipp Entertainment Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 23 Nov. 2021 On a recent weekday morning, the shrill bleat of a drill unscrewing a wooden crate echoed over music playing from a small speaker in the building’s rotunda. Washington Post, 6 Oct. 2021 As Bryant scrupulously took notes on dance moves, and Davis practiced his bleat, some moments seemed sure to land differently, even though they were crafted years ago. Michael Paulson, New York Times, 2 Aug. 2021 The alarm continued its steady bleat, the volume seeming to increase. Emma Cline, The New Yorker, 1 June 2020 Hungry fawns often make a soft bleat that has a begging tone to it. Jarrod Spilger, Field & Stream, 6 Dec. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bleat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 9 Feb. 2023.

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

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