Is there a hypernym for animal noises like "bark", "meow", "roar", et cetera?

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    Cry: the utterance or call of an animal. – user66974 May 27 '15 at 10:18
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    "Call", as in "bird call" or "cat call", refers to the sound each animal makes. – tylerharms May 27 '15 at 13:25
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    @tylerharms: Please don't use cat call in that sense ever. – Tushar Raj May 27 '15 at 13:53
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    @TusharRaj: I'm not sure what sense you're implying. The word in question is "call". – tylerharms May 27 '15 at 13:58
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    @tylerharms "Cat call" has a specific and primary negative meaning and you are likely to be misunderstood if you use it to refer to the sound made by a cat. Saying that it's "call" as in "cat call" is confusing. (Also IMO a meow is not a call, neither is a bark -- though a howl might be.) – Matthew Read May 27 '15 at 14:52

Wikipedia calls them animal sounds.

Or simply sounds, as in:

Lion sounds include snarling, hissing, coughing, miaowing, woofing, and roaring. (Wikipedia)

The wikipedia article states that "a majority of them are onomatopoeia" (= not all of them are).

Josh's suggestion cry has merit

  1. The loud characteristic call of a bird or other animal

Imagining their hoots to be the cry of some dangerous animal, she had spent nearly two terrified days on the run from her rescuers.

The example clearly uses the word as a hypernym.

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The technical term I have heard is vocalize - making a noise with their mouth. This applies to an owl's hooting, a cow's moo, and so on. This wouldn't cover crickets, I suppose, but then nor does "cry".

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Animal noises are onomatopoeic.


  1. the formation of a word such as "cuckoo", "meow", "honk" or "boom" by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent
  2. A word so formed

Source: Dictionary.com

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  • 9
    I don't think onomatopoeia is the hypernym OP is looking for. – user66974 May 27 '15 at 10:38
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    It's too broad. A steel worker is a human, but if you say "human", nobody will first and foremost think of a steel worker. – RegDwigнt May 27 '15 at 10:39
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    @Josh61 What do you mean? At the time I answered this question it was actually "term" rather than "hypernym". RegDwight edited it. – Dog Lover May 27 '15 at 10:39
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    Anyway. It is quite obvious what the OP is looking for, and I wouldn't say you have misunderstood him, you did supply a "general word", or "common word", or a hypernym, or an "umbrella term". The only thing is that it's too general. It's a bit like saying that the common word for "bark, meow, roar" is noise, or verb, or word. It's perfectly correct. It's just not specific enough. – RegDwigнt May 27 '15 at 10:44
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    @zencv in that case you want something short and to the point. "Cry" fits perfectly, and the class name gives the context I was imagining, just in code rather than user space. – Chris H May 27 '15 at 13:25

Some professionals refer to the sounds an animal makes as "vocalizations", perhaps to avoid the anthropomorphic terms pet owners and animal lovers tend to use. However, it's a bit stiff and fussy for most uses.

For scholarly examples, see http://www.unc.edu/~rhwiley/wildspectra/info/sounds.html http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI3172488/

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Another good word might be animal "calls", but those are often what animals use to communicate with each other, such as bird calls. It may not include all animal vocalizations you intend it to cover.

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