What word or phrase does your mother always say?
representation of cat sound, 1842, earlier miaow, miau, meaw (1630s). Of imitative origin, cf. French miaou, German miauen, Persian maw, Japanese nya nya, Arabic nau-nau, and Joyce's mrkgnao. In Chinese, miau means "cat." As a verb by 1630s, meaw, also meawle. Cf. Old French miauer "to meow, caterwaul." Related: Meowed; meowing.