What sound does a snake make in French? What does a French rooster sound like? How do you say “oink” or “moo” in French?
These may seem like silly questions, but if you’re anything like me, at some point in your French learning journey you’ll probably be wondering about them. (By the way, the answers are: kss or sss for a snake, and Cocorico ! for a rooster. “Oink” in French is groin and “moo” in French is meuh.)
Of course, animals sound the same in France and whatever country you live in, but the tricky thing is that these sounds aren’t pronounced or written the same way in different human languages. Whether or not you’re an animal fan, you’re likely to come across these onomatopoeias (and many others!) at some point when you read, watch, or listen to things in French.
So here is the list of the most common – and interesting – French animal sounds.
The three types of French animal sounds
As in English, you can divide French animal sounds into three types:
- The onomatopoeia form (the actual sound you hear an animal make)
- The verb form (the word used to show the animal is making its sound)
- The noun form (the general way to refer to the sound an animal makes).
21 French animal sounds
And so, with that in mind, here are 21 French animal sounds, in their three different forms.
Un chat (a cat) – miaou
miaou – “meow”
miaouler – to meow
un miaulement – a meow
ronron – “purr”
ronronner – to purr
un ronronnement – a purr/purring
Un chien (a dog) – ouaf
ouaf ouaf/ouah ouah/wouf – “woof”
aboyer – to bark
un aboiement – a bark
Un oiseau (a bird) – cui-cui
cui-cui – “tweet”/”chirp” (Note that this is just an animal sound: if you’re posting on Twitter, the word is “tweet”)
chanter/gazouiller – to sing/tweet or chirp
un chant/un gazouillis – a (bird)song/a tweet or chirp/tweeting or chirping
Note that gazouiller can also be used for the sound human babies make when they gurgle/babble.
Un pigeon (a pigeon) – roucoul/rou-cou/rou-rou
roucoul/rou-cou/rou-rou – “coo”
roucouler – to coo (This is one of my favorite French words!)
un roucoulement – a coo/cooing
Un corbeau/une corneille (a raven/crow) – croâ
croâ – “caw”
croasser – to caw
croassement – a caw/cawing
Un coq (a rooster) – Cocorico
Cocorico – “Cock-a-doodle-doo”
chanter – to crow
un cocorico/le chant du coq – a cock-a-doodle-do/crowing
Une poule (a hen/chicken) – cot cot
cot cot – “cluck”/”buck buck” (Another one of my favorite French words!)
glousser/caqueter – to cluck
un gloussement/un caquètement – a cluck/clucking
Une chouette/un hibou (an owl) – hou-hou
hou-hou – “hoo-hoo”
hululer – to hoot
un hululement – a hoot/hooting
Un canard (a duck) – coin/coin-coin
coin/coin-coin – “quack”/”quack-quack”
cancaner – to quack
un cancanement – a quack/quacking. (Note that this word can also be used mean people talking loudly about useless things.)
Un cochon/un sanglier (a pig/boar) – groin/grouin
groin/grouin – “oink”
grogner – to grunt
un grognement – an oink/oinking/grunting
Note that for humans, grogner can mean to grunt or grumble. Grogner can also sometimes be used to express a dog’s low growling.
Un cheval (a horse) – hiii
hiii – “neigh”
hennir – to neigh
un hennissement – a neigh/neighing
Une vache (a cow) – meuh
meuh – “moo”
meugler/beugler/mugir – to moo
un meuglement/un beuglement/un mugissement – a moo/mooing
Un âne (a donkey) – Hi-han
Hi-han – “hee-haw”
braire – to bray
un braiment – a bray/braying
Un mouton/un agneau/une chèvre (a sheep/a lamb/a goat) – Bê/Beee
bêler – to baa/to bleat
un bêlement – a baa/baaing/bleating
Une souris/un rat (a mouse/a rat) – couic
couic – “squeak”
couiner – to squeak
un couinement – a squeak/squeaking
Une abeille/un bourdon (a bee/a bumble bee) – buzz/bzzz
buzz/bzzz – “buzz”
bourdonner – to buzz
un bourdonnement – a buzz/buzzing
Note that in other contexts, the French word for “buzz” could be different.
Une grenouille (a frog) – coââ-coââ/coa/ croa croa
coââ-coââ/coa/ croa croa – “ribbet ribbet”/”ribbet”
croasser – to croak
un croassement – a croak/croaking
Un serpent (a snake) – kss/sss/sssh
kss/sss/sssh – “ssss”
siffler – to hiss (Note that this refers to the sound a snake makes in French. When talking about humans, siffler means “to whistle”. When talking about a cat hissing, you’d say cracher.)
un sifflement – a hiss/hissing (of a snake)
Un loup (a wolf) – Ouuuh/Aouuuh
Ouuuh/Aouuuh – “Owooo”
hurler – to howl
un hurlement – a howl/howling
Note that the French word used to describe other sorts of howling – for instance, the wind howling – can be different.
Un lion, un tigre, un ours, un dinosaure, etc. (a lion, a tiger, a bear, a dinosaur, etc.) –roah/roooar/raaah
roah/roooar/raaah ! – “raaah!”
rugir – to roar
un rugissement – a roar/roaring
Note that a different word may not be used for other types of roaring (traffic, etc.).
Are there other French animal sounds?
Not only are there other words for sounds that other animals make in French; there might also be variants of the sounds on our list. After all, onomatopoeias are words that try to capture a sound, so anyone could write them slightly differently, depending on what they hear.
The animal sounds in this article, though, are the most common you’ll encounter and the ones most often used ones in French songs, nursery rhymes, quiz shows, etc.
How can I practice French animal sounds?
If you’d like to hear more French animal sounds or practice saying them, one easy and fun way is to sing Dans la ferme de Mathurin – the French version of “Old MacDonald had a Farm”!
You can do an internet search to find lots of different versions of the song. Here’s my favorite to get you started!
If you’re the one singing, you can plug in any animal and sound you like!
Where can I find more French animal sounds?
To find more French animal sounds, you can search for “Comment écrire le bruit de” plus the animal you’re looking for, online.
You may also find the animal sound you’re looking for on this helpful French animal sounds list.
And this list is an excellent source for the verb and noun forms of French animal sounds, as well as a few onomatopoeia forms.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about French animal sounds. Do you have a favorite one? Feel free to share it in the comments!