\ ˈmōn How to pronounce moan (audio) \

Definition of moan

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : lamentation, complaint … made a great moan if he had to work …— D. H. Lawrence
2 : a low prolonged sound of pain or of grief a moan of distress


moaned; moaning; moans

Definition of moan (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to bewail audibly : lament
2 : to utter with moans

intransitive verb

2a : to make a moan : groan
b : to emit a sound resembling a moan the wind moaned in the trees

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Other Words from moan


moaner \ ˈmō-​nər How to pronounce moaner (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for moan

Synonyms: Noun

groan, wail

Synonyms: Verb

groan, wail

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Examples of moan in a Sentence


She let out a long, deep moan. the moan of the wind the moan of the car's engine


The wounded soldier moaned in pain. He moaned with pleasure as she rubbed his back. We were all moaning about the cold, rainy weather. He's always moaning about his salary. The children were moaning and groaning all morning, but their mother would not let them go outside. I'm tired of all his moaning and groaning about his salary. “But I don't want to go,” moaned the boy. The wind moaned in the trees.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Males are known to emit a songs of complex melodies, comprised of moans, cries and chirps, and their choruses can last for hours at a time. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Found: A Hub Where Humpback Whales Share Their Songs," 12 Sep. 2019 The singer, best known for his work with British post-punk band Bauhaus, helped codify the sound of goth music with his grim moan and melancholy lyrics. Randall Robertsstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Goth legend Peter Murphy hospitalized after suffering heart attack," 14 Aug. 2019 Sometimes people’s response to my being from New Orleans is a sound—moans, gasps of memory, which generally precede their stories of the city, usually characterized as wonderful, singular, sometimes bewitching. Sarah M. Broom, The New Yorker, "Who Stays Gone, and Who Can Afford to Return," 12 Aug. 2019 Over abstract backing tracks that replaced conventional beats with moans, squeals and muffled roars, the artist played his part almost too well. Kevin Williams,, "Pitchfork Music Fest 2019: What we loved and what we could do without on day 3," 21 July 2019 Superballs mounted on bamboo skewers made the piano moan and groan. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Carlsbad Music Festival brings diverse mix of unusual music," 4 Aug. 2019 In Lyuh’s deft hands, its piercing moan sounded more like a blues guitar than any of those. Zoë Madonna,, "Bang on a Can turns up the volume with LOUD Weekend at Mass MoCA," 3 Aug. 2019 White and his fellow frontman and guitarist Brendan Benson teased out the opening guitar lines, injecting the melody with more rattle and moan, before the riff finally kicked into gear. Piet Levy, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The Raconteurs with Jack White rock Milwaukee for the first time at sold-out Eagles Ballroom show," 15 July 2019 The doors opened with slow creaking moans, and all the feet that entered turned into knees. Silvina Ocampo, The New Yorker, "Skylight," 11 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The only sound was the wind moaning through the pine trees. David Maurice Smith, Smithsonian, "A 42,000-Year-Old Man Finally Goes Home," 23 Aug. 2019 Mrs May’s former aides moan that figures such as Philip Hammond, her chancellor, hamstrung the prime minister by refusing to play along with her pantomime preparations for a no-deal Brexit. The Economist, "Boris Johnson is looking like Theresa May 2.0," 8 Aug. 2019 Searching Bailey, who can be heard moaning in the video, the officers find a gun and cut his pants off to secure the weapon. Hollie Silverman And Theresa Waldrop, CNN, "Family of man shot in the back by police in Colorado call for independent investigation," 15 Aug. 2019 Some listened dreamily with eyes closed; some squirmed, others were completely ecstatic, entranced; still others were demonstrative, ringing [sic] their hands and moaning softly in obvious bids for attention. Los Angeles Times, "From the Archives: Frank Sinatra at the Hollywood Bowl," 13 Aug. 2019 The show includes 80 life-size dinosaurs moaning in a darkened exposition center, familiar to many families as the site of Palm Beach County’s public school graduations. Lois K. Solomon,, "They’re not extinct in West Palm Beach: Dinosaur theme park draws thousands | PHOTOS," 17 Aug. 2019 Bailey soon collapsed and moaned as officers handcuffed him. Kirk Mitchell, The Denver Post, "Video shows Colorado Springs police shoot De’Von Bailey in the back as he runs away," 15 Aug. 2019 Dolphins click, whales moan, walruses bellow and seals bark. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Listen to a Seal Sing the Star Wars Theme and ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’," 25 June 2019 The lion approaches my tent and moans on the opposite side of a gauzy screen, 10 feet from my head. Ken Geiger, National Geographic, "Why walking safaris are the best way to see wildlife," 17 June 2019

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

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First Known Use of moan


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for moan

Noun and Verb

Middle English mone, from Old English *mān

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Statistics for moan

Last Updated

20 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for moan

The first known use of moan was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for moan



English Language Learners Definition of moan

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a long, low sound that someone makes because of pain, unhappiness, or physical pleasure
: a long, low sound
British, informal : a complaint about something



English Language Learners Definition of moan (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make a long, low sound because of pain, unhappiness, or physical pleasure
: to express unhappiness about something
: to say (something) in a way that shows pain or unhappiness


\ ˈmōn How to pronounce moan (audio) \

Kids Definition of moan

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a long low sound showing pain or grief
2 : a long low sound the engine's moan


moaned; moaning

Kids Definition of moan (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to utter a long low sound
2 : complain

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More from Merriam-Webster on moan

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with moan

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for moan

Spanish Central: Translation of moan

Nglish: Translation of moan for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of moan for Arabic Speakers

Comments on moan

What made you want to look up moan? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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