Miao Miao, Purr Purr

The sounds that cats make, miao and purr purr, are onamapoeic words – that means the sounds the words make are to approximate a sound we hear.


The chinese word for cat  is

猫 māo

It’s an onomatopoeic word.

it sounds like miao, or mao – the sound cats make when the call to us.


The derivation of the character is two-fold – on the left hand side is   – a “radical” or part of a character – meaning small animal. The right hand side is phonetic – that is to say 苗 miáo lends the sound to the word. 苗 miáo actually refers to a group of people living in Yunnan, the Miao people, but that is not relevant to the word for cat.


Words are often doubled up in Chinese also, so you get

猫猫māo māo – which sounds just like the English miao miao!


@sounja here is your answer to the Chinese word for cat!