50+ Best Dutch Onomatopoeias

Have you ever thought about why languages have different words for the same sounds? If a horse makes the same signature sound in the US, and 7,000 km away in the Netherlands, why do these languages use different words to describe it? (The US: A horse neighs.) (The Netherlands: Een paard hinnikt.) Why is ‘neigh’ (hinnikt) different in Dutch than in English? Dutch onomatopoeias are different from English ones!

The word ‘neigh’ is an onomatopoeia: a word formed from the sound associated with what it’s named. The phenomenon of onomatopoeias highlights a fascinating aspect of language: they are interpretations of sounds filtered through the phonemes & specific elements of a given language. Interesting, right? 

Today, we will look at Dutch onomatopoeias and compare them to English onomatopoeias. Dutch is linguistically very close to English, as they are both West Germanic languages. Because of this, many onomatopoeias are similar to each other in spelling and pronunciation. Still, there are many differences, some onomatopoeic words which will surprise you! Woef Woef, Niii, Boe! Let’s dive in and learn something new today! 

Want more fun Dutch learning materials? Check out Dutch idioms & the best Dutch movies to learn the language.


History Of Onomatopoeias 

Dutch Onomatopoeias

The English term ‘onomatopoeia’ comes from the Greek ‘name-making,’ from onomato (name) & poeia (making). 

Even though the underlying sound is the same in each place, onomatopoeias fluctuate worldwide. Sounds are expressed through unique ‘consonant strings’ in different languages worldwide. Why does this occur?

Although no precise studies ever showed an exact answer to this question, some theorized that the origin of the first human language imitated natural sounds (bow wow theory). Though it has been discredited as the sole origin of language theory, there is evidence to suggest that imitative sounds were critical in the evolution of language. 

Today, it is still a great mystery as to why onomatopoeias differ so drastically in some languages but stay the same in others. For example, why do cows ‘moo’ in most languages, but only in English do turkeys go ‘gobble gobble’? There are some strange outliers worldwide, but it only adds to the fun of learning a new language! 

There are so many new sounds to learn … it’s its own giant subset of learning any new language! Hundreds of sounds are classified as onomatopoeias, most of which we don’t even think about in our native languages! Let’s dive into Dutch onomatopoeias so you can be one step closer to mastering the niche linguistic aspects of this language! Also, it’s quite funny to learn onomatopoeias in another language. Get ready to giggle! 


Dutch Onomatopoeias – Animal Sounds

Dutch Onomatopoeias

Animal onomatopoeias are the most well-known and commonly used in daily life. Let’s see how Dutch animal noises compare to English! Here is a list of animal names of Dutch vs. English onomatopoeias.

What Animal Noise Is It?EnglishDutchPronunciation
The sound a dog makes. Bark  Waf waf / woef woef [Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Waf waf[/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]woef woef [/Speechword]
The sound a cat makes. MeowMiauw / Mauw[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Miauw [/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Mauw[/Speechword]
A chicken clucking. Cluck cluckTok tok tok [Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Tok tok tok [/Speechword]
A rooster crowing. Cock a doodle doo Kukeleku [Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Kukeleku [/Speechword]
The sound a turkey makes.Gobble gobbleKraaien[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Kraaien[/Speechword]
The sound a goose makes. Honk honkGak gak[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Gak gak[/Speechword]
A duck call.  Quack quackKwak kwak [Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Kwak kwak [/Speechword]
A frog sound. Ribbit ribbit Kwaaak [Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Kwaaak [/Speechword]
A horse whining. Neigh neigh Niii / Hiii[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Niii[/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Hiii[/Speechword]
A horse galloping. GallopKataklop kataklop[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Kataklop kataklop[/Speechword]
A donkey braying. Hee-haw Ie – aa[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline] Ie – aa[/Speechword]
A cow mooing. MooBoe[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Boe[/Speechword]
The sound a sheep makes.BaaBèh / Mèh[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Bèh [/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Mèh[/Speechword]
A pig squealing. Oink oink Knor knor[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Knor knor[/Speechword]
The sound a fish makes. Glub glubBlub blub[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Blub blub[/Speechword]
A mouse squealing. Squeak squeak Piep[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Piep[/Speechword]
A parrot call. SquawkLorre[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Lorre[/Speechword]
A snake hiss. HissSssss[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Sssss[/Speechword]
An owl sound.Hoot Oehoe[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Oehoe[/Speechword]
An elephant sound.TootToet[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Toet[/Speechword]
A lion / tiger roaringRoar / rawrGrrr[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Grrr[/Speechword]
A monkey call. Oo-ooh-a-aahOok ook / Oe-oe-a-a[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Ook ook [/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Oe-oe-a-a[/Speechword]


Dutch Onomatopoeias – Food, Drink, & Bodily Function Sounds

Dutch Onomatopoeias

Consuming food and involuntary bodily functions are other common subsets of onomatopoeic words used daily. How do Dutch people say these words?

What Sound Is It?English DutchPronunciation
Eating food. Nom nom Jam jam [Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Jam jam [/Speechword]
Drinking. Slurp slurp / glug glugKlok klok klok[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Klok klok klok[/Speechword]
Biting. Chomp chomp Hap[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Hap[/Speechword]
Swallowing. GulpSlik[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Slik[/Speechword]
Heart beating. Thump thump / lub dubBoenk boenk / boem boem / klop klop[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Boenk boenk[/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]boem boem[/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]klop klop[/Speechword]
Belching.BurpBurp[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Burp[/Speechword]
Coughing.Cough cough Uche uche [Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Uche uche [/Speechword]
Farting.Toot toot Prot[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Prot[/Speechword]
Sneezing.AchooHatsjoe / hatsjie[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Hatsjoe [/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]hatsjie[/Speechword]
Snoring.Zzz Snurk / Zzz[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Snurk [/Speechword]
Yawing.YawnGaap[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Gaap[/Speechword]


Dutch Onomatopeias – Other Miscellaneous Sounds 

Dutch Onomatopoeias

Like I mentioned before, there are hundreds of onomatopoeias used in language that we don’t even think about. Here are the ones that didn’t fit in another category!

What Sound Is It?EnglishDutchPronunciation
A scream.Ah / yikes Au / auw [Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Au [/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]auw [/Speechword]
A shriek.EekGah Iek[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Gah Iek[/Speechword]
A hush.Hush / shhh / shush Ssst[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Ssst[/Speechword]
A pause. Uh / um / erm / hmmmEh[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Eh[/Speechword]
A stutter.StutterHakkel / stotter [Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Hakkel [/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]stotter [/Speechword]
The sound of laughter. Haha / heh-heh Hihi[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Hihi[/Speechword]
The sound of a kiss.Mwah / smoochSmak / mwah[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Smak [/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]mwah[/Speechword]
Balloon bursting.Pop Pang / poef[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Pang [/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]poef[/Speechword]
Gunshot.BoomBiem / ratatata[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Biem [/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]ratatata[/Speechword]
Crash.Boom / wham / slam / thunk Boem / knal / plof / bam[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Boem [/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]knal [/Speechword][Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]plof [/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]bam[/Speechword]
Floor creaking.Creak Kraak[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Kraak[/Speechword]
Knocking.Knock knockKlop klop[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Klop klop[/Speechword]
Camera shutter.Click Klik[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Klik[/Speechword]
Car engine revving.Vroom vroom Broem / vroem[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Broem [/Speechword]/[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]vroem[/Speechword]
Car horn honking.Honk honk / beep beepToet toet[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Toet toet[/Speechword]
Clock ticking. Tick tockTik tak[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Tik tak[/Speechword]
Doorbell ringing.Ding-dongTring tring[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Tring tring[/Speechword]
The sound of a keyboard.Click click / clack clack Tik tik[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Tik tik[/Speechword]
Siren wailing. Nee naw / wee-wooTaatuutaatuu[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Taatuutaatuu[/Speechword]
Train whistling. Choo chooTuutuut[Speechword voice=”Dutch Female” isinline]Tuutuut[/Speechword]


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Learning onomatopeias is a fun way to become a more balanced and fluent Dutch speaker. Take a break from difficult grammar tenses and practice the following silly phrases to bust out in conversation! 
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