English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Hounds tend to "bay" rather than "bark". When a dog barks, you can say "he let out a loud bark". In a similar construction emphasizing the hound-ness of the creature, can you say "he emitted a loud bay that echoed through the chamber"? Or would it be a bark regardless?

share|improve this question
One can say those things ("he let out ...", "he emitted ...") without infringing grammar rules. But both are clumsy. Replace with (eg) "He barked loudly" and "His loud bay echoed throughout the chamber". – jwpat7 Nov 29 '11 at 16:38
@jwpat7 The actual sentence is something like "I announced my presence with a bay that echoed off the walls of the cold, still room." Which I feel is less awkward than my quick examples above or the sample revisions "I bayed loudly, announcing my presence as the sound echoed" or "My bay announced my presence as it echoed". But still feels weird. I'm considering dropping the word altogether in favor of describing the sound more accurately, something like "I announced my presence, the howling bark coming from deep within my chest" or something. All of which belongs on writers rather than english – Yamikuronue Nov 29 '11 at 19:53
Yes, writers.SE can give more advice on the wording. As I see it, besides being clumsy, the "announced my presence" versions waste words spelling out the obvious. – jwpat7 Nov 29 '11 at 21:36
up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to dictionary.com, bay can be used as a noun:

a deep, prolonged howl, as of a hound on the scent.

So in that case, you could say "he let out a loud bay" but that would not be my first choice, as it sounds kind of awkward.

I would probably not use the intransitive form, and just go with a direct verb:

He bayed loudly, and it echoed through the chamber.

Possibly also consider howl as an alternative:

He let out a loud howl that echoed through the chamber.

share|improve this answer
Is a howl really the same thing? A howl to me is more prolonged, that sound of a wolf and a moon and the nighttime forest. A bay is more of a deep, elongated bark than a howl... or am I off base here? I'm more concerned with connotations than denotations at the moment. – Yamikuronue Nov 29 '11 at 16:08
I'm not up on variants of hound noises, honestly, but according to the dictionary definition of bay, it's a possibility: verb (used without object) 5. to howl, especially with a deep, prolonged sound, as a hound on the scent. – Lynn Nov 29 '11 at 16:14
+1 for making what seems to me the obvious point that howl would probably be chosen over bay or bark by most native speakers for OP's context. Given this is metaphoric usage anyway, I suspect many writers would simply opt for roar, and leave it to the reader to imagine exactly what sound seemed appropriate. Using bay in any construction would probably just interrupt the narrative flow, since we don't normally use this word in the context of human noises. – FumbleFingers Nov 29 '11 at 22:39
@FumbleFingers My main character is a dog at the time, I write fantasy. This is literal usage. – Yamikuronue Nov 30 '11 at 14:02
@Yamikuronue: oic. Sorry, that never occurred to me. I suppose that makes bay okay in principle, but you might still need to be a bit careful with it. Apart from the intransitive verb form meaning to howl, it also occurs as to bay someone/thing, meaning to bring to bay (trap, corner). Personally, I'm with Lynn in that I'd steer clear of it as a noun, whatever verb you use to "generate" the sound. – FumbleFingers Nov 30 '11 at 19:12

Bay can be used as a noun to refer to the sound made by dogs.

share|improve this answer
Awesome, thanks! I'd never seen it in use before, so it sounded awkward. – Yamikuronue Nov 29 '11 at 16:06
And it's quite a specific sound as well. I would not say that bay is a subtype of bark. I read barking primarily as a warning/aggressive sound whereas baying is an excited encouragement to the pack. – Wudang Nov 29 '11 at 16:08
@Yamikuronue IMO, it does sound awkward. – user11550 Nov 29 '11 at 16:08

A bay (noun) can be the baying of dogs (definition 5).

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.