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[mohn] /moʊn/
a prolonged, low, inarticulate sound uttered from or as if from physical or mental suffering.
any similar sound:
the moan of the wind.
complaint or lamentation.
verb (used without object)
to utter moans, as of pain or grief.
(of the wind, sea, trees, etc.) to make any sound suggestive of such moans:
The wind moaned through the trees.
verb (used with object)
to utter (something) inarticulately or pitifully, as if in lamentation:
He moaned his response.
to lament or bemoan:
to moan one's fate.
Origin of moan
1175-1225; Middle English mone, man(e) (noun), Old English *mān, inferred from its derivative mǣnan to mourn
Related forms
moanful, adjective
moanfully, adverb
moaningly, adverb
unmoaned, adjective
unmoaning, adjective
1. See groan. 4. grieve. 4, 7. mourn. 7. deplore. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for moan
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And all the fire-pains that was did make her moan moans until hours after, when she died.

    The Story of Opal Opal Whiteley
  • Not a sound was heard but the moan of an occasional gust of wind.

    Ranald Bannerman's Boyhood George MacDonald
  • She wanted to cover her eyes, to blot out the sun, to run to some friendly darkness to make her moan.

    Katrine Elinor Macartney Lane
  • Let her moan and groan and sigh away there—what did it matter!

    Salted With Fire George MacDonald
  • With a moan she pressed her lips to the nailed feet, and came on gropingly to the couch.

British Dictionary definitions for moan


a low prolonged mournful sound expressive of suffering or pleading
any similar mournful sound, esp that made by the wind
a grumble or complaint
to utter (words) in a low mournful manner
(intransitive) to make a sound like a moan
(usually intransitive) to grumble or complain (esp in the phrase moan and groan)
Derived Forms
moaner, noun
moanful, adjective
moaning, noun, adjective
moaningly, adverb
Word Origin
C13: related to Old English mǣnan to grieve over
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for moan

c.1200, "lamentation, mourning, weeping; complaining, the expressing of complaints; a complaint; lover's complaint; accusation, charge," probably from an unrecorded Old English *man "complaint," related to Old English mænan "complain, moan," also "tell, intend, signify" (see mean (v.1)); but OED discounts this connection. Meaning "long, low inarticulate murmur from some prolonged pain" is first recorded 1670s, "with onomatopoeic suggestion" [OED].


mid-13c., "mourn (someone); regret, bewail;" c.1300, "to lament, grieve; utter moans;" probably from Old English *manan, related to mænan "to lament" (see moan (n.)). From 1724 as "to make a low, mournful sound." Related: Moaned; moaning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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