Talking Like the Animals With Spanish Sounds

Words for Animal Sounds Vary by Language

Cat in mirror.
El gato maulla. (The cat meows.). Christian Holmér/Flickr

If a cow says "moo" in English, what does she say in Spanish? Mu, of course. But, when we are talking about the sounds that animals make, it is not always that simple. Although the words we give to animal sounds are an example of onomatopoeia (onomatopeya in Spanish), meaning words that are intended to imitate sounds, those sounds are not perceived the same in all languages or cultures.

A Frog Makes a Different Sound

For example, take the lowly frog, who says "ribbit" when he is in the United States.

According to a language compilation done by Catherine Ball of the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University, the source of much of the information in this article, if you take that same frog to France, he will say "coa-coa." Take the frog to Korea, and he will say "gae- gool-gae-gool." In Argentina, he says "¡berp!"

Terms Vary by Country and Culture

Below, you will find a chart that details the sounds that some animals make in Spanish, the corresponding verbs forms where they exist (in parentheses) and its English equivalents. Keep in mind that some of these terms can vary by country and that there very well may be other additional terms in use. Having a variation of other terms should not be surprising, as in the English language we use a variety of words such as "bark," "bow-wow," "ruff-ruff" and "arf" to imitate the sound a dog makes. There also may be a variety of spelling alternatives to these animal sounds.

Also, note that in Spanish it is possible to use the verb hacer to put a sound in verb form. For example, one could say "the pig oinks" by saying "el cerdo hace oink-oink."

List of Sounds by Spanish Speaking Animals

The following list of animal sounds shows the sounds made by various "Spanish-speaking" animals.

You will notice that some terms are similar to English, such as abeja (bee) sounding like bzzz similar to our buzz. Special verb forms, where they exist, are noted in parenthesis following the word(s) for the animal sound. English forms follow the dash. See the animal sounds list below:

  • Abeja (bee): bzzz (zumbar) — buzz
  • Búho (owl): uu uu (ulular) — who, hoo, hoot
  • Burro (donkey): iii-aah (rebuznar) — heehaw
  • Caballo (horse): jiiiiiii, iiiiou (relinchar) — neigh, n-a-a-a-y
  • Cabra (goat): bee bee (balar) — b-a-a-a-a
  • Cerdo (pig): oink-oink, oinc-oinc (grunir) — oink
  • Cuco (cuckoo): cúcu-cúcu — cuckoo
  • Cuervo (crow): cruaaac-cruaaac — caw
  • Gallina (hen): coc co co coc (cacarear), kara-kara-kara-kara — cluck
  • Gallo (rooster): kikirikí, ki-kiri-ki (cantar) — cock-a-doodle-doo
  • Gato (cat): miau (maullar) — meow
  • León (lion): grrrr, grgrgr (rugir) — roar, growl
  • Mono (monkey): i-i-i
  • Oveja (sheep): bee, mee (balar) — b-a-a-a-h
  • Paloma (dove): cu-curru-cu-cú (arrullar)) — coo
  • Pato (duck): cuac cuac — quack
  • Pavo (turkey): gluglú — gobble
  • Perro (dog): guau guau, guau (ladrar) — bark, bow-wow, arf, ruff
  • Pollito (chick): pío pío — chirp
  • Rana (frog): cruá cruá, berp, croac (croar) — ribbit, croak
  • Tigre (tiger): ggggrrrr, grgrgr (rugir) — roar, growl
  • Vaca (cow): mu, muuu (mugir) — moo
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Erichsen, Gerald. "Talking Like the Animals With Spanish Sounds." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2017, thoughtco.com/animal-sounds-in-spanish-3079568. Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, August 29). Talking Like the Animals With Spanish Sounds. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/animal-sounds-in-spanish-3079568 Erichsen, Gerald. "Talking Like the Animals With Spanish Sounds." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/animal-sounds-in-spanish-3079568 (accessed September 20, 2017).