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Bark vs Bay vs Howl vs Growl vs Snarl vs Yelp vs Yap

Bark, bay, howl, growl, snarl, yelp, yap mean to make the sound of or a sound suggestive of a dog.

Bark implies the sharp, explosive utterance characteristic of dogs; it may be used not only of them and of another animal (as a seal) that produces a similar noise but also of a person or a sonorous thing that gives the same effect.

Bay implies a repeated or almost continuous barking in deep prolonged tones that is characteristic of hounds in pursuit of quarry.

Bay is seldom used of any animals other than members of the dog family (including mythical ones such as Cerberus) and is infrequently used in reference to men. When it is so used, it generally implies the action not of an individual but of a group (as a mob) that acts like a pack of dogs baying.

Howl implies a long, loud, mournful cry made by dogs seemingly in distress and often interpreted as evidence of hunger or loneliness. The term implies also similar sounds made by other animals, but its strongest association has been with dogs and wolves.

Howl (see also ROAR) may be used in reference to human beings to imply loud crying, laughing, or derisive calling, and to other sounds that suggest the howling of animals (as in loudness and prolongation).

Growl applies to the long, low rumbling sound suggesting a threat that is made by an angry dog; less often it is used in reference to other animals (as the bear or cat). Like howl, it is applied to persons and to inanimate things (as thunder and winds).

When used of persons, it suggests utterance in a surly or grumbling mood.

Snarl implies not only a growling but a snapping and baring of fangs; it, too, is used typically of dogs and suggests an aggressive or infuriated state.

Snarl when used of a person’s manner or speech implies a highly disagreeable quality and usually suggests spite or malignity and a menacing attitude.

Yelp has as its basic implication the utterance of short, shrill barks by a dog (as in eagerness, in pain, or in fear); when used in reference to men, the word often implies a number of short, shrill utterances, especially indicating surprise, fear, or excitement.

Yap comes close to yelp, but it chiefly implies the short, shrill barking of a small dog or excited, staccato sounds that are comparable.

It may suggest excessive talking that conveys little but is usually uttered in an insistent or offensive and often high-pitched voice.