\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from moan


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

Synonyms for moan

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of moan in a Sentence

Noun She let out a long, deep moan. the moan of the wind the moan of the car's engine Verb 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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Of course there were the initial screams and the side-splitting moans, sounds that came from some nameless part of her body. Hilary Leichter, Harper's Magazine, "Terrace Story," 25 May 2020 In 2018, a second location opened in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, to predictable wails and moans. Pete Wells, New York Times, "At Sushi Nakazawa, Only the Price Remains the Same," 14 Jan. 2020 If that’s not offered, newcomers should seek out a mentor, but Everett suggests keeping that relationship professional: Don’t let the mentor draw you into a moan-fest about difficult characters. Jess Shankleman,, "Starting a New Job Is Hard. Starting a New Job in a Pandemic Is Even Harder," 6 May 2020 This announcement brings the predictable gasps and despondent moans from the shallow singles. Kristen Baldwin,, "With Too Hot to Handle, Netflix holds horny hotties (and viewers) hostage: Review," 16 Apr. 2020 Vaughan gives me permission to write, and to turn moans into music. John Williams, New York Times, "In ‘Afropessimism,’ a Black Intellectual Mixes Memoir and Theory," 5 Apr. 2020 What can’t be kept out is noise from neighboring tents: hacking coughs, sobbing, domestic arguments, screaming, moans, and groans. Patrick Strickland, The New York Review of Books, "After the EU Turned Greece into a Refugee Warehouse, a Backlash," 4 Mar. 2020 On Friday, a guest was disturbed by moans coming from Miller’s room. John Kelly, Washington Post, "Before there was coronavirus, there was yellow fever. Fear of it once gripped D.C.," 11 Feb. 2020 Joe Carrotta for The New York Times In a bare fluorescent-lit room at The New School in Greenwich Village earlier this month, three writers peered into their laptops as moans wafted in from the acting class next door. New York Times, "Playwrights Are Finding ‘Television Money’ Helps Pay the Bills," 23 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The girl would come in late, closing the front door too loudly, and Camila would moan and flip over in her sleep, throwing a heavy little arm over Magdalena's chest. Stephanie Green,, "2019 Algren Awards: Finalist: Host Mother," 20 July 2019 But in the past, when the federal government has pointed out these vulnerabilities—and attempted to protect against them—the states have chafed and moaned. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The 2016 Election Was Just a Dry Run," 11 May 2020 The center feeds them, educates them, entertains them — anything to keep these kids and their parents from showing up as statistics in those grim inequity studies City Hall likes to make and moan over but never seems to act on. Robert Wilonsky, Dallas News, "‘You don’t give up, ever’: How a private school provided sanctuary to a NW Dallas church erased by fall’s tornado," 3 Mar. 2020 What's more, the engine has been revised this year to meet 1985 emissions requirements—a great accomplishment considering the way other exoticar manufacturers moan and groan about meeting current EPA requirements. Michael Jordan, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1982 Maserati Quattroporte," 21 Apr. 2020 The injured passengers began moaning, and others started panicking. Stefanie Dazio, USA TODAY, "Maryland man arrested after Greyhound bus shooting that killed 1, injured 5 in California," 4 Feb. 2020 The injured passengers began moaning, and others started panicking. Stefanie Dazio,, "1 dead, 5 wounded in shooting on Greyhound bus in California," 3 Feb. 2020 The horrified kid would just stand there, with puke on the floor, humiliated, the other kids moaning, the teacher with her hand up, waving frantically as if to stop it, and starting to retch. John Kass,, "Column: Paste-eaters, pukers and bullies, why I hate those back-to-school stories," 15 Aug. 2019 Richard Burton’s Hamlet, a blustering Norman Mailer debating Germaine Greer, an avant-garde theater troupe writhing and moaning in Polish—or even mirroring one another. David Gordon, Harper's magazine, "The Forty-Year Rehearsal," 6 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about moan

Time Traveler for moan

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for moan

Cite this Entry

“Moan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for moan


How to pronounce moan (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a traditional thanksgiving dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!