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If

  • a dog barks "woof" (or some other variation)
  • a frog croaks "ribbit"

is there a verb for when cats "meow" other than "meow" itself?

I am specifically looking for a word that is usually only associated with a cat's "meow" similar to how bark is usually only associated with a dog's "woof", so cry as suggested in "Term for “representative” animal sound?" won't work.

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    (As an aside not really related to the question, most frogs don’t croak ‘ribbit’—they make an impressively varied range of noise, of which only a small number are even close to the characteristic sound we think of as a ribbit.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 20 '18 at 8:47
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    Cats are supposed to meow or purr only. All the same, the representations of their sound is always called onomatopoeia. – Kris Jul 20 '18 at 8:47
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    The only possible expression seems to be "the animal made a sound" or even, "said." – Kris Jul 20 '18 at 8:52
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    @JanusBahsJacquet As a continuation of your aside, the OED shocked me by discussing how the word 'ribbit' itself only dates to the '60s, when it was popularized on American television by cartoons featuring Mel Blanc & co. – lly Jul 20 '18 at 13:12
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Consider mew (it's kind of cheating, I know, but ODO lists it as a verb first, as opposed to the entries listing miaow/meow as a noun first).

mew verb (of a cat or gull) make a characteristic high-pitched crying noise. ‘Her cat mewed at her anxiously and snarled at Cameron, who snarled right back.’ - ODO

Depending on the cat's temper at the time, snarl from the second example above might work instead; or perhaps purr. Big cats such as lions roar, but that sound is nothing like a meow.

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    Even I got the question wrong it seems. A verb for when cats make a sound other than "meow" itself. – Kris Jul 20 '18 at 8:49
  • @Kris Then this answer scrapes by on a technicality. :) – Lawrence Jul 20 '18 at 8:50
  • See my new comment. What do you think? – Kris Jul 20 '18 at 8:53
  • @Kris It looks like the comment I responded to. The bit about cheating was that it's spelt differently from the OP's 4-letter cat call even though the difference in pronunciation is hardly on the scale of croak/ribbit or bark/woof. – Lawrence Jul 20 '18 at 9:00
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    @Lawrence: I think this is the only possible answer. Even if it's not completely satisfactory, don't delete it. – Peter Shor Jul 20 '18 at 10:48
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This answers your question only partially.

Cats howl at night during the mating season.

There are other types of mating calls or mating cries apart from howling and meowing, including trilling, cooing and mewing. Still other vocalisations are yowling, moaning and wailing.

Source: Melody in Human-Cat Communication project at Lund University (Yes, there is indeed such a thing!)

  • I think the thing to underline re: your source's claims is that these are all considered by them to be separate and distinguishable vocalizations, not synonyms that they would use interchangeably with one another. – lly Jul 20 '18 at 10:11
  • Yes, that's true. – nuraxi Jul 20 '18 at 10:57
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If

  • a dog barks "woof" (or some other variation)
  • a frog croaks "ribbit"

is there a verb for when cats "meow" other than "meow" itself?

I am specifically looking for a word that is usually only associated with a cat's "meow" similar to how bark is usually only associated with a dog's "woof", so cry... won't work.

First off, dogs don't bark "woof". They bark "bark". They're two different sounds. Ditto yelps, arfs, bows-wow, grunts, howls, whimpers, and cries. Ditto croaks and ribbits, although note that "ribbit" is apparently American frog slang rather than a formal register.

Second, it's just a second onomatopoeia that you're using in a verb sense to describe a second different onomatopoeia in a noun sense. Bark isn't a verb employed with the noun woof. They're both nouns (1, 2) and both can be used as a verb (1, 2) meaning "to make the sound ~". Same thing with "bow-wow" (1, 2). Same thing with "yelp" (1, 2). Same thing with cat noises.

Similarly, you could as easily have a cat "mew(l) 'meow' " or "purr 'mew(l)' " or "meow 'purr' ". They could "hiss" any of them. But all of those words should more properly describe different sounds.

That said, third, there are the verbs "waul" and "caterwaul" which means to wail (i.e., meow) like a cat in heat. The OED also particularly associates "yawl" and "yowl" with cats, albeit in the same limited sense: the pained meowing of a female cat in estrus.

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