Animal Sounds in Spanish

Camels braying at the air

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

Spanish Terms Vary by Country and Culture

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 the terms should not be surprising—consider how in English we use a variety of words to imitate the sound a dog makes, such as "bark," "bow-wow," "ruff-ruff," and "arf.") 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 do") to put a sound in verb form. For example, one could say "The pig oinks" by saying "El cerdo hace oink-oink."

List of Animal Sounds in Spanish

The following list of animal noises 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 in Spanish below, as compiled by Catherine Ball of the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University:

  • 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