And kanji with manga
Saturday, October 15, 2016

nyaa にゃー

In Japanese, nya にゃ, nyan にゃん, or nyaa にゃー (also spelled にゃあ and にゃぁ), or "nyah," are onomatopoeia that mean "meow," the sound that cats make. That is, in order to say "meow" in Japanese, one of those words are used.

They can also be spelled with katakana, as ニャ, ニャン, ニャー, ニャア, and ニャァ. And there are other variants, too, like myaa みゃー.


Although English has only one way to say "meow," Japanese has multiple, different ways. This happens because the Japanese language simply makes more use of onomatopoeia than the English language.

While English spelling can be confusing and erratic at times, Japanese spelling is very consistent and straightforward, so it's easy to transcribe sounds and variants of sounds in Japanese. That's why you have a short nya, a long nyaa, a more nasal nyan, and so on.

Manga: Nyan Koi! にゃんこい! (Chapter 17)

The word nyaa にゃあ and its variants are strongly associated with the cats that meow them. There's a bunch of series with nya or something in their titles, like Nyan Koi, which are obviously about cats.

There is this website:

There's the word nyanko にゃんこ, which means a "kitty." And since wan わん is "bark," the word wanko わんこ means a "puppy." The normal names would be neko 猫, "cat," koneko 子猫, "kitten," inu 犬, "dog," and koinu 子犬, "puppy." (see: animals in Japanese.)

There's even a type of dere called nyandere ニャンデレ.

At The End of Sentences

In manga and anime, cat characters that speak, cat girls, with nekomimi 猫耳 and stuff, and so on, will sometimes end their sentences with nya. This is called a gobi 語尾 and is just intended to give personality to the way the character's speak.


Some examples of how it's used:
  • sou nya! そうにゃ!
    sou da! そうだ!
    Yeah, that's right!
  • sou da nya そうだにゃ
    sou da na そうだな
    I think so too.
  • nyanda to?! にゃんだと?!
  • nanda to?! 何だと?!
    What did you say?!
  • nyani?! にゃに?!
    nani?! 何?!
  • nyanka kowai にゃんか怖い
    nanka kowai なんか怖い
    That seems scary.

"To Meow" in Japanese

The verb naku 鳴く is how you say "to meow" in Japanese. That is, the word nyaa itself is the sound "meow," but it isn't a verb. It's used like this:
  • neko wa "nyaa" to naku
    Cats make the sound "meow."
    Cats meow "meow."
  • inu wa "wan" to naku
    Dogs make the sound "woof."
    Dogs bark "woof."

As you can see above, the verb naku doesn't literally mean "meow," it means for an animal to make a sound. When it's a dog, the verb translates to English as barking instead.

This isn't to be confused with the homonym naku 泣く, which means "to cry (tears)," instead.


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  1. My cat is a bengal mix and she does not say meow, she says nya and nye,too!Bengal cats talk like this :D