Shouldn't a crow do crow, but why does it a rooster instead? The similar issue is in German language.

  • 1
    Ask the rooster and the crow.
    – Drew
    Mar 30, 2017 at 16:08
  • They are two quite different sounds.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 30, 2017 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


The two terms are both of imitative origin, crow appears to be older in usage and probably for that reason first applied to a common, domestic animal.

Cockcrow dates back to the 1350-1400 period;( Middle English), from Old English crawe, imitative of bird's cry.

Caw was first recorded in 1580-90; of imitative origin.

(Dictionary.com) (Etymonlne)

  • The imitative quality is also called onomatopoeia. It is more likely that the bird's call (rather than the bird's name) is named after what we hear, and that varies in different languages. English hears laughter as HaHa; Hebrew as KhaKha. Mar 30, 2017 at 15:54
  • Yes, it appears crawe is older than caw and initially includes all sounds of all such birds, but just survived for the cock while crows got a new word for what they do.
    – äüö
    Apr 4, 2017 at 6:45

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