Learn 50+ Amazing Chinese Onomatopoeia

Chinese Onomatopoeia - Ling

Chinese onomatopoeia, or “象声词” (xiàngshēngcí) in Mandarin, is a fascinating linguistic phenomenon that adds a splash of vividness to the Chinese language. These are words that imitate sounds, making conversations and literature more expressive and engaging.

In this article, we’ll explore the world of onomatopoeia in Chinese, so you can infuse your language with the magic of these expressions, including those that mimic the sounds of our animal friends!

Let’s discover the rich onomatopoeia vocabulary in the Chinese language.

What Is Chinese Onomatopoeia?

Chinese onomatopoeia, like its English counterpart, are words that imitate real-world sounds. Like “woof” for a dog’s bark, which in Chinese would be “汪汪” (wāng wāng). Onomatopoeic words try to phonetically replicate sounds, and Chinese onomatopoeia, of course, utilizes Chinese characters to do so.

Adding onomatopoeia into your day-to-day conversations enhances your language skills while also leaving a lasting impression on native speakers. It’s like tempering your word salad with a dash of localization. Whether it’s describing your pet’s behavior or the wildlife you encounter, these words for animal sounds make your language come alive.

In daily conversations, Chinese onomatopoeic words create a vivid and descriptive exchange.

For example: 今天的狗汪汪叫得很大声 (jīntiān de gǒu wāng wāng jiào dé hěn dàshēng) – The dogs are barking ‘woof woof’ loudly today.

The use of “汪汪” (wāng wāng) vividly conveys the sound of dogs barking, enhancing the listener’s experience and creating engaging conversations.

We’ve compiled a bunch of examples for you to get familiar with this language wonder. So let’s take a look at them!


Animal Sounds In Chinese Onomatopoeia

Chinese onomatopoeia can represent many things, like natural sounds, animal sounds, human actions, and emotional expressions. First, as it is simpler, let’s dive into the intriguing world of animal sounds in Chinese onomatopoeia and compare them with their English equivalents.

woof汪汪wāng wāng
cock-a-doodle-doo喔喔喔ō ō ō
tweet吱吱zhī zhī
meow喵喵miāo miāo
oink哼哼hēng hēng
hiss嘶嘶sī sī

Other Examples Of Chinese Onomatopoeia

For the rest of the examples, we’ve separated them by the number of characters they use in the Chinese language. We’ll go from simple to more complex. Let’s start!

One Character Words In Chinese Onomatopoeia

These first onomatopoeic words are as simple as the animal sounds we just saw, as they are one-word characters.


Two Character Words In Chinese Onomatopoeia

Now, it’s time to learn two character words!

pssst咝咝sī sī
haha哈哈hā hā
hehe呵呵hē hē
chuckle/giggle咯咯gē gē
hey hey嘿嘿hēi hēi
hee hee嘻嘻xī xī
ho ho (online laughter)吼吼ho ho
tsk啧啧zé zé
grunt咕哝gū nóng
oh no/ come on啊呀ā yā
aha!啊哈a ha
oops/ whoops哎呀āi ya
ow/ ouch哎哟āi yō
whoa!哇塞wa sāi
splash哗哗huā huā
flowing water sound潺潺chán chán
rustle, leaves blowing in the wind沙沙shā shā
thump, heavy dull sound (knock on the door)咚咚dōng dōng
sizzle, the sound of deep-frying滋滋zī zī
rumbling sound; like thunder, sounds of a distant battle轰隆hōng lóng
crash哗啦huā lā
achoo!阿嚏ā tì
whoosh呼咻hū xiū
snore呼噜hū lū
panting呼哧hū chī
plop, the sound of an object falling into the water啪哒pā dā
snap, sudden sharp noise咔嚓kā chā
creaking sound嘎吱gā zhī
tick-tock滴答dī dā

Four Character Onomatopoeia

And we’ve come to the more complicated phrases, but don’t worry, you can beat them with a little practice!

The noise of talking, gossiping, chatter叽叽呱呱jī jī guā guā
Mutter to oneself嘟嘟囔囔dū dū nāng nāng
The sound of something colliding (especially to describe the sound of the ping pong ball in table tennis)乒乒乓乓pīng pīng pāng pāng
The sound of something jumping or dropping one by one into the water扑通扑通pū tōng pū tōng
A conversation among some people that others couldn’t hear clearly叽里咕噜jī li gū lū
Someone’s voice talking annoyingly loud叽里呱啦 jī li guā lā
The sound of firecrackers劈里啪啦pī lǐ pā lā
The sound of rain pouring or something collapsing稀里哗啦xī lǐ huā lā
The sound of metal or porcelain objects clashing丁零当啷dīng ling dāng lāng

The Wonders Of Chinese Onomatopoeia

Chinese onomatopoeia, with their unique approach to depicting sounds, are gems in the world of linguistics. As you explore the world of animal sounds and other onomatopoeic expressions, you’ll discover a rich tapestry of auditory experiences that will elevate your language skills and enrich your cultural understanding.

Start Learning Chinese With Ling!

Want to learn Chinese in a playful and easy way? The Ling app is here for you! It offers more than 60 foreign language courses, including Chinese!

The Ling app can help you learn how to write Chinese characters, understand native speakers, pick up their pronunciation, and do many mini-activities to learn vocabulary. You can even review what you have learned at the end of each lesson. And that’s not all! You can practice your pronunciation and conversational skills by talking to our friendly chatbot.

All you have to do is download the Ling app on your mobile device from the Play Store or App Store to start learning now!

By the way, don’t forget to visit Ling’s Chinese blog weekly to learn more about this culture and its language!

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