Some words are so complex and multifaceted that they deserve a day of special notoriety.

I know, I know—you’re already coming up with words like …


Silly girl.

While that is the longest non-technical term in the English language, it has only one meaning:

“The act of describing something as having little or no value.”

Hmmm … touché.

Anyway, a profusion of letters really isn’t the point here.

The word I’ve deemed worthy of today’s curtsy is …

(wait for it) …


No, dear, I’m not pulling your leg.

What you may not yet know about “mew” (myoo) is that it’s a master of deceptive simplicity. With just one syllable, mew manages to function as both noun and verb, and it has eight—count ’em, EIGHT—definitions.

A master, I tell you.

See for yourself:

Kitten mewing by Ron Whisky via Wikimedia Commons

1. Perhaps the most obvious meaning of mew is the high-pitched vocalization of a kitty cat (which is interchangeable as noun and verb).

Photo by Tatyana via Wikimedia Commons

2. It also denotes the cajoling call of a seagull as well as …

Photo by Tim Rains, Denali National Park and Preserve, via Wikimedia Commons

3. the bird itself (namely, the Mew Gull).

Photo by CheepShot via Wikimedia Commons

4. A “mew” or “mews” is a cage for hawks, commonly used during molting to keep birds relaxed and secure.

Photo by Christine Matthews via Wikimedia Commons

5. It also means to molt.

Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid via Wikimedia Commons

6. In the UK, it’s used in plural form (mews) to refer to stables with living quarters or a row of apartments converted from stables.

Photo by Shravans14 via Wikimedia Commons

7. Similarly, a mew can name a place where one retires or hides.

Photo by Ian Paterson via Wikimedia Commons

8. And finally, behaving strictly as a verb, mew can mean to confine.

There’s a lot about mew that you never knew, true?

  1. Karlyne says:

    “I’m going to mew now.” I can’t wait to use that one!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Wow, this is the word of the day. I was only familiar with the usual Mew that comes from my Mr.Bump kitty. It is fascinating how the same words change from culture and regions. I understand that in Chinese, the same word changes depending on the tone. How confusing would that be!

  3. CJ Armstrong says:

    Very interesting! Thanks!

  4. bonnie ellis says:

    Mary Jane, you come up with the most interesting things.

  5. Nancy Coughlin says:

    Was not familiar with the bird references- those where all new. My reading of English novels had me familiar with the other meanings. How wonderful to have all these new uses for a simple little word. I too shall mew away for the rest of the evening.

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