October 18th, 2016

Monday word: mews, mew

mews (myo͞os) noun
1. A group of buildings, originally containing private stables.
2. An alley or courtyard on which such buildings stand.

mew, noun
1. A cage for birds of prey, especially when molting.
2. A secret place; a hideaway.
3. A high-pitched cry, often from a cat.
4. A type of migratory gull (Larus canus).

Ok, so I think this is how it goes...

'Mew' as a place for hawks originated in the 1300s, from French muer, to molt.

'Mewes' was the name of the royal stables at Charing Cross, which were built in 1534 on the site of the former royal mews (where the hawks were kept).
From this use, we got the definition (around 1800) of 'mews' as "a street of former stables converted to human habitation".
'Mews' in that form is singular, even though the original 'mews' it's based on (the hawk cages) was plural.
And, the plural of 'mews' (the street) is...'mews'.

Mews (the street(s)) are most common in London.

In relation to the sound a cat makes, 'mew' is an imitative word originating in the late 1500s.
For the bird, the word is also imitative, of the sound the gull makes.
After all that, I'll just post a picture of a cat.