31 Spanish Onomatopoeia Words You Should Know
- Jada LòpezSpanish teacher, translator🎓 B.A., Translation and Interpreting English and Spanish, Universidad de Granada🎓 M.A., Formación de Profesores de Español como Lengua Extranjera (ELE), Universidad Pablo de Olavide
Passionate language teacher and translator. Wife, mother of 3 and amateur surfer.
Spanish onomatopoeia aren’t just limited to comic books.
Plenty of words spell the sound they describe in Spanish, and learning them can be a great way to widen your vocabulary.
Some Spanish onomatopoeic words differ from their English equivalent, but they’re fun and easy to learn. From human-made sounds to animal sounds, I’ve prepared a list of over thirty onomatopoeia in Spanish that you can add to your vocabulary.
Let’s get cracking with the list.
Spanish onomatopoeia to represent human-made sounds
This list of onomatopoeic Spanish words represents various human-made sounds.
Do you recognise any of them?
The onomatopoeia ¡achis! is used to represent a sneeze.
It’s the Spanish equivalent of the word “achoo!” which, in Spanish, would be to estornudar.
If you’re writing this onomatopoeic word, don’t forget the accent mark on the í or exclamation marks on each side of the word (and remember that the first exclamation mark should be upside down).
Hip is Spanish onomatopoeia that you can use when describing the sound of hiccups, which are referred to as hipos in Spanish.
We have this same onomatopoeia in English, so you may already recognise it.
Zzz represents the action of sleeping or snoring, which would be to dormir or roncar in Spanish.
Can you guess what this onomatopoeia is?
Yes, it represents the action and sound made when you give someone a kiss, known as un beso in Spanish.
The English equivalent of muac is mwah.
Chinchín imitates the sound of clinking glasses together and the action of making a toast.
In Spanish, this action is known as making un brindis, or haciendo un brindis.
Spanish onomatopoeic words that describe animal sounds
This next section contains Spanish onomatopoeia that describe Spanish animal sounds.
Some you may recognise, others you may not! Check the list and add new ones to your vocabulary.
While we use “ribbet ribbet” in English, croa-croa is the Spanish onomatopoeia representing the sound frogs (or ranas) make.
You may be able to guess this onomatopoeia as it’s spelled similarly to its English equivalent.
Miau is a word that Spanish speakers use to describe the noise cats (or los gatos) make. In English, we would say “miaow”.
Qui-qui-ri-quí may seem like a long Spanish onomatopoeia, but it will be less of a surprise once you know which animal makes this noise. This word refers to the sound a rooster or el gallo makes.
In English, we would say “coca-doodle-doo”.
While in English, we say “quack-quack” when describing a particular animal, Spanish speakers say cua-cua-cua.
The animal that Spanish speakers imitate with this sound is the duck (los patos).
Guau is the sound that dogs (or los perros) make in Spanish.
In English, we would say “woof”. Sometimes Spanish speakers will repeat this Spanish onomatopoeic term just as we do.
They’ll say guau guau instead of “woof-woof”.
Instead of “cheep-cheep” in Spanish, we say pio-pio when describing the noise of baby chickens (known as los pollitos in Spanish).
This Spanish onomatopoeia sounds different to its English equivalent.
While English speakers say “ahh ooo” or “ooo”, Spanish speakers imitate the sound of a wolf (un lobo) using the word aúlla.
You may be able to guess what this Spanish onomatopoeia means just by looking at it.
Cúcu-cúcu is the equivalent of the English word “cuckoo-cuckoo” and imitates the noise of the cuckoo bird.
In English, we use the word “hee-haw” to describe a donkey neighing. In Spanish, we use the word iii-ahh.
Funny but accurate, right?
Mu is the Spanish word that represents a cow “mooing”.
Onomatopoeic verbs in Spanish
There are several onomatopoeic verbs in Spanish.
Here’s a list of examples you may hear in Spanish-speaking countries.
Pitar is a verb that means “to beep”.
For example, if a vehicle nearly crashes into your car, you may have to pitar or “beep” your car horn.
Pité porque estabas apunto de chocar.
Chocar is another Spanish onomatopoeia that imitates the sound of a “crash”.
It describes the action of knocking or crashing into something.
Mi cabeza chocó contra el techo.
The verb crujir means “to crunch” in Spanish but can also mean “to creek”.
You may use it to describe the action of crunching or creeking a step.
Estoy crujiendo los cereales.
You can change the onomatopoeia miau into a verb, which is maullar.
The English equivalent would be “to meow”, and you can also conjugate the verb maullar into its gerund form to get the verb maullando.
Mi gato está enfadado. Por eso está maullando.
The onomatopoeic verb chupar imitates the sound people make when they lick an ice cream or eat a sweet.
Incidentally, that’s where the popular lollipop Chupa Chups gets its name.
Está chupando el helado. Le gusta el sabor.
The television show Zapeando is one example of this verb in action.
It gets its name from the action “to zap” or zapear, an onomatopoeic word that describes the action of “zapping” something (like when we press a button on a remote control and switch channels).
Si tuviera tiempo libre, estaría en casa zapeando las canales de la tele.
If you’ve ever gotten close to a beehive, you’ll know that the best word to describe it is “buzzing”.
The Spanish equivalent is zumbar, which you can conjugate in its gerund form to get zumbando.
Las abejas estaban zumbando y ahora tienen mucha miel.
Spanish onomatopoeia that represent object and machine noises
The onomatopoeic Spanish words in this section describe the noises of objects and machines.
Take note of the ones you don’t know.
If you hear a firework or a loud explosión, this Spanish onomatopoeia ¡pataplum! is the best way to describe it.
You might think of ¡pataplum! as a similar word to the English onomatopoeia “bang!” or “bang-bang!”
When a balloon explodes, you may describe this sound as a “pop” in English.
In Spanish, you can use the word plop, which also describes the sound of a stone hitting the water’s surface.
We may use the noise “nee-naw” in English to describe a police siren, but in Spanish, we’ve got the onomatopoeic word ui-uy-ui-uy.
The Spanish word traca traca represents a train’s sound as it travels over the train tracks.
This phrase is another onomatopoeic Spanish word you can use when describing the “choo-choo” sound of a train (or tren in Spanish).
It looks like “tick tock”, but this Spanish onomatopoeia doesn’t refer to the sound of a clock.
Spanish speakers use ¡toc toc! to describe the sound of someone knocking on their doors.
The sound you make with a computer mouse when you press the button is known as a clic in Spanish (and a “click” in English).
Spanish people also use the word clic when referring to a camera when taking a photograph.
While this is similar to ¡toc toc!, tictac refers to a clock ticking or the sound of the second hand moving around the clock.
Instead of tic tac, in English, we say “tick tock”.
Ever wondered which Spanish onomatopoeia to use for the sound of a door shutting?
You’ve just discovered it: clac is the sound you’ve been looking for.
How do you say onomatopoeia in Spanish?
The word you’re looking for if you want to say onomatopoeia in Spanish is onomatopoeya.
It’s a cognate that means the same thing as its English equivalent, referring to words that imitate the sound they represent through their spelling, which means it’s easier to remember than you might first think.
Onomatopoeia in Spanish: Pay attention to spelling
We’ve got to the end of the article.
Don’t forget that some Spanish onomatopoeic words are not spelled the same as their English equivalent, so don’t always assume the Spanish version is exactly identical to the English one.
You might also be interested to check out this list of Japanese onomatopoeia (with audio).
Which other onomatopoeia would you like to see on this list?
Add your contribution just below in the comments!
🎓 Cite article