Moaning is making a low, unarticulated cry indicating either pain, complaint, sorrow or pleasure. A moan usually has qualities from both the vowel family, the fricative family, and the nasal family, which makes it difficult to express in letters, e.g. in comics or literature. Still, something like "ohhhh", "hhhahh" or "mmmmh" may convey an approximate idea of the sound made. Moaning may be soft or somewhat louder, but never as loud as a cry with true vocal, usually vowel, qualities.
A culturally cultivated form of moaning is also the "mmm" sound made in many cultures to communicate that one is enjoying something pleasant (e.g. a massage, a nice bath or shower, or a good food or drink.
The pleasure/pain ambiguityEdit
One of the most interesting things about moaning is that exactly the same sound is made for such different things and emotions, including both intense displeasure and intense pleasure.
Many people moan during sexual arousal and sexual intercourse, which helps to release energy but also to intensify one's feelings. Many people also enjoy it when their partner moans in such situations and thus communicates his or her intense sexual pleasure. Additionally, although many may not admit it, the pleasure/pain ambiguity may also play a role in the popularity of sexual moaning, even for people not into BDSM. Sexual moaning can be unvoluntary, semi-voluntary or completely complimentary (i.e. friendly faked).