Definition of bleat in US English:



[no object]
  • 1(of a sheep, goat, or calf) make a characteristic wavering cry.

    ‘the lamb was bleating weakly’
    figurative ‘handing the mike to some woman who starts bleating out rap rhymes’
    ‘the silence was broken by the plaintive bleating of sheep’
    • ‘The valley is quiet and serene, and right now is bursting with the energy and exuberance of spring - the trees are budding, the daffodils bobbing, the birds are busy, the lambs are bleating and there are calves suckling.’
    • ‘The other fiend was trying to make its way to the pasture where the sheep were bleating.’
    • ‘The lambs bleated for moisture, their tongues rattling in their parched pink mouths.’
    • ‘Flies buzzed, cockerels crowed, goats bleated and a chorus of dogs was howling furiously.’
    • ‘When I park near the dunes, I hear what sounds like a goat bleating beyond the vast surrounding sugarcane fields, which can't be right - there's no farm in sight.’
    • ‘He slurred words, intentionally sang out of tune, bleated like a sheep, laughed at himself and made up nonsensical lines.’
    • ‘We pass endless farmyards where cows doze under banyan trees in the morning light and goats bleat hysterically at the sight of her.’
    • ‘The sheep bleated at such unkindness, and their resistance strengthened her resolve to continue.’
    • ‘On tour, this dependency was even more intensified; we used to joke in the airports, pretending we were sheep, bleating as we waited for someone to tell us where to go.’
    • ‘Goats bleated occasionally, chickens clucked and honks from geese could be heard sometimes.’
    • ‘It was silent in the little old town on the hill; the only sounds to be heard came from the wind whispering through the treetops and the sheep bleating quietly in their pens.’
    • ‘The brain centres under observation would activate and the sheep would bleat in a particular way when they saw pictures of members of their own flock and in a similar way when they saw a shepherd they knew well.’
    • ‘In fact, I bleated at it like an aging nanny goat.’
    • ‘Their stress levels were monitored by looking at the number of times each sheep bleated, its movement within the barn and its heart-rate.’
    • ‘The lane petered out to track, the rain increased to torrential and dozens of lambs crowded under thorn trees, bleating.’
    • ‘They watched as the goat struggled to its feet and limped away, bleating in protest at this unexpected treatment.’
    • ‘A grass-chomping, bleating, Lakeland sheep is set to become the star of a series of books written and illustrated by a local author.’
    • ‘The goat bleats piteously - it knows this is not a good day.’
    • ‘We camped overnight but with the dawn chorus and the sheep bleating, it was hard to sleep!’
    • ‘He nodded his head, and the ram bleated out a cry before storming off towards Diana.’
    baa, maa, cry, call
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1reporting verb Speak or complain in a weak, querulous, or foolish way.
      ‘he bleated incoherently about the report’
      • ‘It's time you stopped listening to those insipid ‘advisors’, whoever they may be, as well as what the press are bleating on about, and reverted to your true fighting style.’
      • ‘And now they come to this chamber, bleating, awash with crocodile tears and pretending to be the custodians of free speech - pretending to be the custodians of this institution.’
      • ‘‘Everything about him was right,’ she bleats, apparently failing to notice that he had a fake plastic face.’
      • ‘Prepare for 2018, he bleats - only 13 years from today!’
      • ‘I think she must be insecure or something, as in her footage she bleats about having ‘too many faults’ when the cameras follow her into the change room.’
      • ‘How many times have we heard the supermarkets bleating on about ‘it is customer demand’ when challenged about their imports of meat, poultry, milk and other produce that they could have bought local?’
      • ‘‘This Irish son has moved with the times,’ he bleats meaningfully.’
      • ‘‘If it lasted a week, it would be okay,’ he bleats, ‘but it lasts a month!’’
      • ‘I didn't want to go back to their circles and listen to them bleat like herds of sheep.’
      • ‘Why, I remember when my own won the pig competition in the county fair, it made my heart bleat with pride and joy.’
      • ‘At the time he said, ‘Mr Gilchrist has gone into this dispute roaring like a lion and is coming out bleating like a lamb’.’
      • ‘He senses that Europe's concerns aren't getting a hearing in America because Europe bleats with a voice which is both confused and hypocritical.’
      • ‘Wilting with shame, he bleats, ‘I have no hand in all this… all this that has happened.’’
      • ‘So long as this is done by a person who has already purchased a DVD, and strictly for their own use, it should fall under the fair use exception that the DCMA bleats about protecting.’
      • ‘They would be bleating and complaining that this Government was not involved in the Solomon Islands.’
      • ‘And you are president of an organisation which bleats about caring for ladies' football, handball and even rounders!’
      • ‘‘I suppose it doesn't matter,’ I heard her bleat behind me.’
      • ‘So, day one, class one, we fire up the software and a dismayed voice instantly bleats from the back of the room, ‘But this isn't like the old system!’’
      • ‘These people are sometimes seen dashing from the bus stop, with their Gucci yoga mats nestled under their arms, bleating, ‘Ohmygod if I'm late to class Swami will so kill me!’’
      • ‘Internet piracy is ‘cyber-theft on a huge scale, and it's a very big obstacle to the music industry's own advances to develop legitimate ways for consumers to enjoy music on-line,’ the group bleats.’
      • ‘And to promote her movies, Jennifer Aniston, well, bleats on endlessly about her life.’
      • ‘She thinks I spend all these hours on the computer looking at pornography or some other harmless pursuit; if she knew I was bleating on about life, the universe and everything she would get worried.’
      • ‘‘The unions are always bleating about exploration companies hiring people from abroad, but what's the option when these professionals are just not available here?’ he said.’
      • ‘If any proof were needed, then the fact that the Human Rights brigade are bleating and complaining about it must show it is a good thing.’
      • ‘A Greens apparatchik phones the station and bleats to the producer.’
      • ‘He should tell the unions to stop bleating about foreign workers - even if they dress their warnings with expressions of concern - and worry instead about how they can deliver greater productivity from their members.’
      • ‘Type that address into your Web browser, though, and a message bleats, ‘Site Terminated for Failure to Pay Bills.’’
      • ‘Alexis de Tocqueville would marvel at what bleating sheep we have become.’
      • ‘It doesn't come out of thin air - down the line, it might even come out of the pockets of all those little people he bleats on about.’
      complain, moan, mutter, grumble, grouse, groan, grouch, growl, carp, snivel, make a fuss
      View synonyms


  • 1The wavering cry made by a sheep, goat, or calf.

    ‘the distant bleat of sheep in the field’
    • ‘He ignored the sheep's little bleats of protest and only focused on which sheep his arrow hit.’
    • ‘From one side came the cry of curlews, from the other the bleat of sheep.’
    • ‘The excited squeals of hungry piglets and the bleats of insistent lambs seem better designed for pestering reluctant mothers than for conveying a simple message of need.’
    • ‘On TV screens across the globe, for more than three months now, the sheep have been jumping into the ditch without a bleat of protest.’
    • ‘The cloning of human beings has seemed inevitable since Dolly took her first bleat, and we should be relieved that it was done by scientists in a laboratory, not by wild-eyed members of some cult.’
    • ‘Other utilized techniques were scent stations using cougar urine, catnip, or other scents, and recorded sounds such as cougar screams, predator calls, and deer bleats.’
    • ‘On delicate feet they tripped from the road, the young ones uttering their plaintive bleats.’
    • ‘There were other sounds in the distance: the muted shouting, the bleat of llamas, the distant bustle of the town.’
    • ‘There was that permeating smell of animals and damp straw, the bleat of a llama came from a neighbouring stall.’
    • ‘Only the gentle buzz of the mechanical shears kind, the chatter of 300 onlookers and the odd sheep's bleat could be heard as 33 of the Mid West's best shearers took part in Geraldton first speed shearing competition.’
    • ‘A llama's whining bleat sounded through the veils of sleep, jolting me to bleary awareness.’
    • ‘From the kitchen comes the less violent bleating of the baby lambs, and in the distance the occasional deeper bleat of a sheep or low of a cow.’
    • ‘To lure them from the dense woody thickets scattered through the arid open savannas, he used the ultimate bait: the ‘plaintive bleat of a wounded baby buffalo.’’
    • ‘I amused myself by calling people from the sheep barn and leaving the bleats of shorn sheep on their machines.’
    • ‘We'd pass them on our daily walks and I swear their monotone bleats seemed to be saying, Blaaah, blaaah, blaaah.’
    • ‘Their typical call is a mingled bray and bleat, followed by a snorted inhale sounding like an oak dining table being dragged across a hardwood floor.’
    • ‘The lands beyond are filled with a chorus of bleats and croaks and barks.’
    1. 1.1 A person's weak or plaintive cry.
      ‘his despairing bleat touched her heart’
      • ‘Without warning, the machine bleats: ‘It's not my fault ’in a piteous voice.’
      • ‘Still, when the bus stopped for any length of time, the bleats of goaty anguish would start up again, and my companion and I would glance at each other.’
      • ‘First Joey, his voice a mutant-goat bleat, succumbed to lymphoma in 2001.’
      • ‘His voice is a harsh, nasal, confused, emphatic bleat, clamping down on certain words and rolling tricky internal rhymes around in his mouth until they come out all broken.’
      • ‘Manifestation of my words came fourteen years after I'd spoken there but at the time it was only an honest bleat of frustration with a system that was reprehensible.’
      • ‘There was a sudden sheep-like silence broken only by a bleat - we had been stumped, outwitted and outclassed by an obese, middle-aged rube.’
      whine, cry, sniffle, snivel, sob, moan, bleat, mewl, wail, groan
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A complaint.
      ‘they're hoping that I'll bow to their idiotic arrangements without a bleat’
      • ‘Here is a bleat from a disgruntled Indian, pointing out the obvious from one side of the culture war.’
      • ‘The chiefs of the association are unlikely to pay much heed to a rural bleat, even if the problem is almost nation-wide.’
      • ‘Already I can hear the bleat of anxious readers: the word ‘independence’, and the concept it embodies, is problematic.’
      • ‘Contrary to Dembski's bleats, the evidence that complex biological systems are the product of evolution is sufficient to convince just about every scientist who has ever considered the matter.’
      • ‘I can't tell if these bleats about Rod Serling or the Palestinians are diluting your humor work, because I can't claim to know it well enough, but I certainly have my suspicions.’
      • ‘That means an end to bleats of: ‘Dad, the internet is down.’’
      • ‘Seguis ends his pathetic bleat with this statement to the terrorists.’
      • ‘Again the answer drifted down, this time in a long-drawn-out bleat of protest: ‘Nooooo!’’
      • ‘The latest bleat seems to be: those Democrats, that Jesse Jackson, they have unclean hands and double standards.’
      • ‘We have heard the same bleats from our own Left ad nauseam.’
      • ‘But this paper does carry a different tone to previous bleats by the bosses' union that more investment is needed in delivery mechanisms.’
      • ‘The only bleat was City's failure to turn such superiority into goals.’
      • ‘Incidentally, I don't know why whingeing has to start with a bleat.’
      • ‘And, he repeats the bleats about how pure and dedicated scientists would never get into ‘showbiz,’ nor would they ever try for a prize.’
      • ‘Their MPs voted for the anti-democratic state of emergency without a bleat of protest.’
      • ‘I'm really grateful to all you folks who answered my bleat about financial support for Catholic apostolates yesterday!’
      • ‘The great philanthropist, in other words, is financed by mere mortals who stupidly bear their taxes without so much as a plaintive bleat.’
      • ‘The ubiquitous bleats about international law always seem to restrain one party whilst leaving the other unscolded.’
      • ‘The eternal bleat from the Right is that they are being prevented from asking legitimate questions by an hysterical climate of political-correctness.’
      • ‘My objections are not the usual huge-corporate-malls-are-soulless rants, or the cars-destroy-the-environment bleats you usually get from the tree-huggers.’


Old English blǣtan, of imitative origin.