Korean Onomatopoeia (의성어) – Animal sounds you will love

Last Updated on July 15, 2021 by 90 Day Korean
Illustration of a gun shooting

Words, alphabets, phrases, or sentences are what we often study first when we learn Korean. But have you also thought about the Korean onomatopoeia?

Whether you are just starting to read Hangeul or you’re practicing fluency, this is one topic that you’ll certainly enjoy!

If you want to spice things up, impress your Korean friends, and have a lively conversation topic for most occasions, then read on about the Korean onomatopoeia words you’ll love!

Illustration of a gun shooting

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What is Korean Onomatopoeia?

Perhaps you are familiar with the term “onomatopoeia” in English. This simply means a word that imitates a sound. For example, sounds like “beep-beep” for a car horn, or “bang” for the firing of a gun. They can also be animal sounds like “woof-woof” for a dog, or “cock-a-doodle-doo” for a rooster.

The words on the tables below are onomatopoeia (의성어 | uiseongeo) commonly used in Korea. Some are animal noises, and some are everyday noises you hear. These can be used as fun conversation starters if you’re first meeting Koreans or visitors from other countries. It’s a great laugh to hear how other cultures represent animal noises.

How are they pronounced?

The pronunciation may seem a bit strange at first, but once you understand Hangeul better, the Korean alphabet, it’ll make much more sense. If you can’t read the Korean alphabet, then it’s worth it to take the time to learn! You can click on the audio beside each words’ Korean terms below to know how easy they’re actually pronounced!

You can also surprise your Korean friends by telling them how you “pigged out” yesterday at the buffet, and then making the 꿀꿀 (kkulkkull) noise afterwards! These can also be good pronunciation practice for uncommon words.

Note: These words are written in both Hangeul and romanized English. To learn to read how to read Korean in one hour for free go here.

Korean Animal Sounds

These are the common animal sounds in Korean.

EnglishKorean
Bark of a dog (meongmeong)
Meow of a cat (yaong)
Crow of a rooster (kkokkio)
Oink of a pig (kkulkkul)
Moo of a cow (eumme)
Ribbit of a frog (gaegulgaegul)
Hoot of an owl (bueongbueong)
Coo of a pigeon (gugu)
Squeak of a mouse (jjikjjik)
Cackle of a crow (kkaakkkaak)

Meow in Korean

A cat’s meow in Korean is called 야옹(yaong). It’s easy to remember as it sounds quite similar to “meow”.

Korean Sound Effects

These are how the everyday noises that you hear are translated into Korean.

EnglishKorean
Ring of a telephone (ttareureung)
Knock on a door (ttokttok)
Honk of a horn (ppangppang)
Thump of something dropping (kwang)
Smooch of a kiss (jjok)
Ring of a doorbell (dingdong)
Sound of a cough (kollok-kollok)
Cry of a baby (eongeong)
Choo Choo of a train (chikchikpokpok)
Clink of wine glasses (jjaenggeurang)

If you feel the need to mix things up when you learn Korean, try incorporating these words into your everyday conversations for added fun. Also great anytime you need to communicate with animals or impersonate the Kakaotalk characters!

What are the words for these sounds in your native language? Do you have a favorite onomatopoeia word in Korean? We will look for your comments below!

    5 replies to "Korean Onomatopoeia (의성어) – Animal sounds you will love"

    • Avatar for ann ann

      thanks! do you have post about korean double words (chok-chok, tok-tok…)?

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Hi, Ann! I’m afraid we don’t have a post for the words yet. ^^

    • Avatar for Pearl Colley Pearl Colley

      Too fun! Would love to hear them!

    • Avatar for Joseph Won Joseph Won

      This is so cute!

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