I was wondering, how would you best describe the sound a zip fastener makes when it's opened or closed slowly? You know, that "r-r-r-r-r" kind of sound?

I thought about growling, but that feels too violent a choice.

  • 2
    I've always heard it described as a "zip". But that's generally when operated quickly.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 7:27
  • 1
    @Rathony How does the question of how to describe something in English not have anything to do with the English language? Yes, describing sounds may be subjective, but that's why I'm interested in this in the first place.
    – User1291
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 8:30
  • @Rathony onomatopoiea is entirely on-topic
    – Mitch
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 14:06

4 Answers 4


A zip:

  • A brief sharp hissing sound.


The sound produced by a slow movement may be just a matter of personal interpretation. Probably a grinding sound:

  • A crunching or grinding noise.
  • Please read my question again. I'm not looking for "a brief sharp hissing sound".
    – User1291
    Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 7:30
  • As it's a lower-frequency and longer-lasting sound than a fast zipping, maybe something like "zzzzzzup"? Commented Nov 18, 2015 at 11:31

I will go with ri[iii...]ri[iii...]

If saying RIRI out loud approximates a zipper-like sound, then yes, it's onomatopoeic. However, I do not hear RIRI in American zippers. Our little plastic-coiled ones for ladies-wear and the big brass ones for 501 Levis and the three-yard long monster-toothed zipper on my camping text all have looong zzzzipzs that the short syllables of RIRI does not seem to represent.

If you are doing a radio ad or TV promo, you don't have to write the RIRI brand. Just record the zipper (going at various speeds) and have a good novelty voice-over say RIIIIIIIIIRIIIIIIIIII, sustaining for the length of the zip, sort of like the insurance co. that has trained us to hear a duck say quack quack but with a distinct "AFLAC" coming through -- the name of the firm. Quora


the word itself is onomatopoeic the noise closing a zipper makes is a zip sound.

Zziiipppp but perhaps only when closed quickly. you could also argue that it is like a growl or i prefer a purr when a zipper is closed slowly.

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    The word 'zip' predates the invention of the invention of the zip fastener by at least 60 years. Merriam Webster says it dates from 1852 but this website and others say that the first true zip fastener wasn't invented until 1917. They also say that the word "zipper" was first applied to rubber overshoes fastening with what we now call "a zipper" in the early 1920s and the term gradually moved to the fastener after that.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 22:44

If you're working on subtitle or caption... the best way to describe the sound since "zip" is a onomatopoeia is mentioning the item first, something like, (jeans zipping)(bag zipping) (pant zips)

  • Hello, memphis, welcome to EL&U! As I understand it, User1291's question is exactly about a certain kind of zipper sound, the slow zrrzzrzzrzzz where you can almost count the clicks of the individual teeth. Do you have a suggestion for that, from your experience or knowledge? Do give some time to taking the Tour if you haven't yet, and read this how to for advice for writing answers. Cheers!
    – Conrado
    Commented Aug 9, 2020 at 0:12

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