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From Middle English bemenen, bimenen, from Old English bemǣnan (to bemoan, bewail, lament); equivalent to be- (about, concerning) +‎ moan. Alteration of vowel from Middle to Modern English due to analogy with moan.



bemoan (third-person singular simple present bemoans, present participle bemoaning, simple past and past participle bemoaned)

  1. (transitive) To moan or complain about (something).
    Synonyms: bewail, lament, mourn
    He bemoaned the drought but went on watering his lawn.
    • 1577, Raphael Holinshed, “King Richard the seconde”, in The Chronicles of England, Scotlande and Irelande[1], London: John Hunne, page 1075:
      The losse of this erle was greatly bemoned by men of al degrees, for he was liberal, gentle, humble, and curteous to eche one []
    • 1855, Elizabeth Gaskell, chapter 1, in North and South[2]:
      [] after deliberately marrying General Shaw with no warmer feeling than respect for his character and establishment, [she] was constantly, though quietly, bemoaning her hard lot in being united to one whom she could not love.
    • 1957, Muriel Spark, chapter 7, in The Comforters[3], New York: Avon, published 1965, page 155:
      “I am sure you are better off without Mr. Hogg,” Helena would say often when Georgina bemoaned her husband’s desertion.
    • 2004, Andrea Levy, chapter 9, in Small Island[4], London: Review, page 112:
      He’d have told that horrible sister of his that more coloureds had just turned up. How many is it now? they’d have said to each other. Fifty? Sixty? ‘You’ll have to speak to her, Cyril,’ she’d have told him, before bemoaning how respectable this street was before they came.
  2. (transitive, reflexive) To be dismayed or worried about (someone), particularly because of their situation or what has happened to them.
    • c. 1591–1592 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Third Part of Henry the Sixt, []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene v]:
      Son. Was ever son so rued a father’s death?
      Father. Was ever father so bemoan’d his son?
    • 1640, George Abbot, The Whole Booke of Iob Paraphrased[5], London, Chapter 6, verse 12, pp. 40-41:
      Sure you take mee not to be made of flesh, or if so, yet not to be sensible that thinke me able to beare these burthens without bemoning my selfe.
    • 1847 October 16, Currer Bell [pseudonym; Charlotte Brontë], chapter II, in Jane Eyre. An Autobiography. [], volume III, London: Smith, Elder, and Co., [], →OCLC, page 52:
      My rest might have been blissful enough, only a sad heart broke it. [] It trembled for Mr. Rochester and his doom: it bemoaned him with bitter pity []
    • 1885, Richard F. Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Night 563:
      [] So we cried to him, "O Rais, what is the matter?"; and he replied saying, "Seek ye deliverance of the Most High from the strait into which we have fallen and bemoan yourselves and take leave of one another; for know that the wind hath gotten the mastery of us and hath driven us into the uttermost of the seas of the world."
    • 1987, Tanith Lee, “Children of the Night”, in Night’s Sorceries[6], Garden City, NY: Nelson Doubleday, page 396:
      “He is come to the town in order to marry a hapless maiden. The lady must be bemoaned.”

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